Health and safety sentencing guidelines – fines on the increase

On 1 February 2016, the new sentencing guidelines for H&S offences came into force. They require an assessment of turnover to set a starting point for…

On 1 February 2016, the new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences came into force. The new guidelines require an assessment of turnover in order to set a starting point for a fine.

A large organisation with a turnover of over £50 million, very high culpability and the highest category of harm attracts a starting point fine of £4 million with a range of between £2.6 and £10 million. Low culpability and the lowest harm category dictates a starting point of £10,000 with a range of between £3,000 and £60,000. 

The general expectation that fines would increase as a result of the new guidelines is reflected in the cases below.

On 8 February 2016 ConocoPhillips (UK) Limited became the first large organisation to be convicted and sentenced under the new guidelines. The company, which has a turnover of £4.8 billion, pleaded guilty to three breaches of relevant health and safety regulations for a series of non-fatal uncontrolled gas releases at one of its offshore installations. The court imposed a fine of £3 million – equivalent to £1 million for each offence.

Watling Tyre Service Ltd was fined £1 million with costs of £99,485 on 1 June 2016 for breaches of Sections 2(1) and 3(1) the Health and Safety at Work 1974 following the death of an employee who was killed when a tyre exploded. The company has an annual turnover of between £21 million and £25 million.

Monavon Construction was the first company to be sentenced under the new guidelines for the corporate manslaughter of two members of the public who died after falling into a building site. The company has a turnover of much less than £2 million and was fined £500,000 on 27 June 2016.

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