Over the last 12 months subtle changes have occurred, three, to be exact. You’re probably not even aware of what they are!
All three are in conjunction with amendments to legislation and all three could have a massive impact in 2016.
Change 1– Back in March 2015, the maximum amount for fines that can be awarded in a Magistrates court for a H&S Fine, was changed to unlimited. This means that if you end up facing a prosecution, you could have a much larger fine in a magistrate’s court than ever before or even the same as you would get in a crown court.
Change 2– CDM 2015 changed this April. The biggest change was the requirements for the Client. Under CDM the Client has to make suitable arrangements to ensure that a construction project is managed safely. This means that if an accident occurs, then HSE could ask questions to the client regarding their arrangements for the site and decide if the client has done enough.
Change 3– February next year, the sentencing guidelines are being changed to make the fines more significant and are based on turnover rather than profit. As an example £50 million turnover organisation could have a starting point fine of £4 – £10 million. More significantly, you will not be charged for the injury sustained but for the potential worst injury that could have been sustained. So if you are investigated for a ladder fall, which someone hurt their knee, you could be charged for potentially the death of an employee.
Imagine… You are a Client wanting a £500,000 construction project being done. There is an accident on site where someone fell off a delivery lorry. The HSE could charge you (the client) if you have not done enough due diligence for the site for your arrangements. They could also charge you in a magistrates court (just one judge & quicker) with an unlimited restriction and now can charge you on turnover for the potential injury which, in this case could be death.
Companies face multi million pound fines in both Crown and magistrates courts. Recently it has been predicted that very large organisations could face up to £100 million+ size fines. (The biggest fine to date is £15 million).
My question though, is why these changes? Why has someone or some group/politician or barrister decided collectively that these changes were needed? Or maybe these have all happened as a coincidence?
Whatever the reasons, it is time to ensure your due diligence is up to speed, before your company if effected.