On the 1st February, new guidelines were brought into force to ensure sentences for health and safety breaches are fairly and proportionately applied.
The new sentencing guidelines, which are described as the most dramatic change to health and safety legislation since the introduction of the Health, Safety Welfare at Work Act 1974 apply to:
> health and safety offences
> corporate manslaughter
> food safety offences.
Before the 1st February, the courts had limited guidelines, but now courts can use a structured nine step approach to determine sentences for health and safety breaches. This, it is hoped, will improve consistency across England and Wales.
The Sentencing Council says the guidelines shouldn’t increase fines, but it will ensure that they are fair and proportionate, taking into account an organisation’s:
> turnover profit margin
> impact on employees
> ability to improve conditions.
This has always been the case but courts around the country were not being seen to consider all of the three options above all the time. Now they have a guide which is a more robust tool