Definitive Sentencing Council Guidelines

On November 3 the Sentencing Council published its Definitive Sentencing Guidelines for Health and Safety Offences*.  These largely confirm what had been set out in consultation – namely that the potential fine will vary with the size of the organisation (and therefore ability to pay), level of culpability and harm category (a combination of the likelihood of harm and the seriousness of the harm risked).  A number of tables summarise the fines, which range up to £10m for a large (>£50m turnover) organisation with very high culpability.  Even a £10m turnover company could face fines ranging up to £4m.

An organisation can be found to be “highly culpable” (the second most serious category) if it has “fallen far short of the appropriate standard; for example by ignoring concerns raised by employees or others, or failing to make appropriate changes following prior incidents”.  One challenge for organisations is not only to maintain the appropriate standard, but also to be able to demonstrate that the standard has been met.  This includes providing employees with a simple means to raise concerns and ensuring that follow up actions are taken.  This is precisely why our customers employ our health and safety solution with its incredibly simple interface for the occasional user, backed up by comprehensive action management and reporting.  Using our solution to demonstrate strong health and safety management can reduce culpability to from “high” to “low” and the scale of potential fines by over 90%.

Similar guidelines apply to individuals, for whom reducing culpability from “high” to “low” can make the difference between a 1 year prison sentence and a Band F fine (6 times weekly income).

* Note: Corporate Manslaughter is a separate offence with a different (higher) scale of fine.

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