The introduction of new sentencing guidelines will see customers face far greater punishments for health and safety breaches. While these new guidelines are a challenge for businesses, they are also an opportunity for brokers like us to engage with their customers and offer risk management guidance.

From February 2016, fines for health and safety (H&S) offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety increased substantially. The increase applies to cases reaching the courts from February 2016, even if the incident that led to the prosecution occurred before that date.

You may not be aware that H&S fines are now based on your turnover. For example, a company with a turnover of less than £2m can now face a H&S fine up to £450,000; between £2m and £10m, the fine can be up to £1.6m, and a company with a turnover of £10m- £50m could face a fine up to £4m. So-called ‘very large companies’ will be subject to even higher fines.

If you are part of a bigger group, it is possible that the court could seek to levy a fine based on total group turnover, and thus increase the level of the fine.

These fines are in addition to court legal costs, and there is also potential for individuals to be imprisoned or disqualified as a director. In the event of a corporate manslaughter conviction, the court may require the offending company to publicise the conviction on their website and other literature. Moreover, the conviction would have to be disclosed on procurement tenders.

An alleged breach of duty by a company director could expose them to claims under their Directors & Officers Liability policy, a cover that some smaller customers may not have seen as necessary. This cover can either be built into some Business Combined policies or arranged separately – for peace of mind please contact us to discuss further 0151 609 3900, email: insure@bisgnrl.co.uk or visit www.bisgnrl.co.uk.

For more information you can visit ‘leading health and safety at work’. This document is aimed at company directors and includes a health and safety leadership checklist and a guide to further advice sources.

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