Thomson Reuters has found that the value of corporate fines for health and safety breaches increased 18% in the last year, hitting £57.3m in 2017 up from £48.5m in 2016, in an attempt to get health and safety on the agenda at board level.
The value of the average health and safety fine rose 34% to £311,343 in 2017, up from £232,451 in 2016.
BACKGROUND: How are health and safety fines becoming more significant?
The Sentencing Council introduced tougher guidelines for the fines in February 2016, focusing heavily on the level of management culpability for risk of, or actual, harm. Also taken into account are the profitability of the company in question, the potential impact of the fine on employees, and on the company’s ability to make restitution to victims.
Thomson Reuters Legal Business says health and safety breaches can range from an isolated, minor failure to comply with proper processes, to a company deliberately disregarding the law or ignoring concerns raised by employees about dangerous working practices.
DRIVER: Why has this increase in the value of health and safety fines occurred?
Thomson Reuters Legal Business explains that fines are being increased as part of efforts to get health and safety recognised as an issue to be dealt with at board level.
EXAMPLES: In response to the implementation of the guidelines, Thomson Reuters developed a ‘Corporate Convictions Tracker’ for use by in-house legal teams in the UK. Recent examples of companies fined, identified by the Thomson Reuters ‘Corporate Convictions Tracker’, include:
- A plant hire company and a pallets manufacturer were fined £2.5m after a worker was killed;
- A large household goods retailer was fined £2.2m after an employee was left seriously injured;
- A multi-national steel manufacturer was fined £1.3m when an electrician was killed;
- An intruder alarm manufacturer was fined £140,000 when an employee was seriously hurt;
- A food manufacturer was fined £300,000 after an employee was severely injured when cleaning machinery