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Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008

11 November 2008

The British Safety Council (BSC) welcomes the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008, which received Royal Assent on the 16th October 2008 and supports the long held view of Government, HSE, many MPs, the Macrory Review and other important voices, that generally fines for health and safety offences are too low to be an effective deterrent.

The law, which comes into force in January 2009, seeks to revise the system of penalties applicable to certain offences relating to health and safety, raising the maximum fine that can be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most offences and a custodial sentence an option for more offences.

Brian Nimick, CEO of the British Safety Council said: "The changes introduced in this Act demonstrates society's increasing unwillingness to tolerate serious harm or injury to workers and promotes the legal protection of all workers. It highlights the importance of the use of best practice in the workplace and sends a very clear message to employers that neglecting health and safety regulation is not acceptable and will be punished."

Hand-in-hand with the changes to the law that the Act introduces, the BSC strongly supports the need for improved sentencing guidelines for judges and magistrates including greater clarity concerning the appropriate level of fines per particular offence.

Lord McKenzie, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions said: "Good employers and diligent managers and directors have nothing to fear from the Bill, indeed they have much to gain as it tackles the commercial advantage that unscrupulous businesses gain from non-compliance."

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