Since health and safety sentencing guidelines were introduced in 2016, transgressors have had to pay bigger fines or serve longer prison sentences.
Figures from Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that the average fine per conviction in the construction sector has climbed from £57,735 to £107,000 in 2018/19.
Ian McKinnon, managing director of H&S accreditation body CHAS, said small businesses have also been punished for breaching the law, with fines near doubling to £126,000. But, he added, “there is much businesses can do to lower their culpability and ensure that in the event of an incident they never face fines of these figures but first it’s useful to understand how fines are decided”.
Fines are often determined according to the company’s size and its level of culpability – ranging for low to very high – the highest culpability refers to “deliberate breach of or flagrant disregard for the law while factors that lower culpability include a good health & safety record and having effective health & safety procedures in place”, McKinnon explained.
Larger companies should use ISO 45001 or similar management standards to manage H&S, advises McKinnon, while low-risk organisations “can often demonstrate effective risk management without a formal management system”.
Regardless of the H&S management standard or system in place, McKinnon said that consistency is key, which “requires sound contractor and sub contractor management… Therefore a contractor assessment process needs to be in place”.
Image credit | iStock