• New stiffer penalties introduced Feb 2016 for non compliance
• Emphasis changed such that fines apply to putting employees at risk, not just accidents
• Imprisonment more likely for directors, managers, employees
• Higher fines up to £10M for large companies who have a high level of culpability
From February 2016 new tougher sentencing guidelines were introduced for health & safety offences. The objective being to drive compliance and reduce the number of accidents in the work place. The guidelines are directly applicable to electricity related accidents and cases where employees are put at risk due to failure to properly comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations for the implementation of safe working practices described in HSG85.
The likely consequence of the new guidelines is that the level of fines will increase for all sizes of company with very substantial increases for larger organisations. For the largest companies, who are judged to have a high level of culpability and the highest harm category, fines could be as high as £10M
A significantly lower threshold for imprisonment may also result in more directors, managers and employees being given custodial sentences. If a director or employee is aware of a breach of the law that has a medium likelihood of causing death or disability, then the guidelines direct the court to impose a custodial sentence of between 6 to 18 months.
The emphasis has changed such that the new fines are structured not just to punish employers whose failure to comply results in serious injury but also those whose lack of compliance put their employees at risk.
Find out more about how to implement safe isolation procedures and ensure compliance in our video
For more information on making the right choices to ensure safe isolation when installing and maintaining electrical plant and equipment see our article Safe Isolation Procedures & Proper Equipment Save Lives