Many people will be forgiven for agreeing with he above headline, given that the history of our corporate manslaughter legislation has been overshadowed by clear injustice in the view of many victim's family members and their friends. So often when the evidence has satisfied the criteria for the jailing of company directors and owners; judges have not followed the then sentencing guidelines; which has lead to the re-issueing and strengthening of the guidelines to the judisciary.
A summary compilation of recent convictions for health and safety court case convictions, fines and prison sentences of companies, directors and senior managers was issued today by Dave Joyce, CWU National Health, Safety & Environment Officer, and which as he says in his Letter to Branches; which should serve as a stark warning to the companies, directors and managers where CWU Members work.
In addition a copy of IOSH's report, "Health and Safety Sentencing Guidelines 1 Year On", was attached. It can be downloaded by clicking on the cover pic below.
Last year, the UK sat up and took notice as some of the largest fines ever were issued for health and safety cases, following the introduction of new sentencing council guidelines in February 2016. These provide, for the first time, clear guidance on how all health and safety cases should be sentenced and appear finally to recognise through the UK courts that health and safety breaches should be treated as seriously as data breaches, competition breaches or financial irregularity issues. The judgements demonstrate that the UK wants to show its disapproval of serious corporate health and safety failures which lead to injury, illness and death, and a desire to deter such failures by other businesses.
Businesses who successfully focus on health, safety and wellbeing are likely to find themselves better placed to attract valuable new contracts and when seeking new business.
The new guidelines are beginning to provide a measure of the impact that corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences can have on people and the economy. The levels of these fines is also starting to reflect the economic cost to the UK of workplace illness or injury, which is reported to have been £14.1 billion in 2016.
While fines last year regularly exceeded the million-pound mark, we expect to see even larger fines in the future for businesses failing to meet their health and safety duties. Initial analysis of the types and levels of fines during 2016 also indicates that the individuals (Directors and Managers) responsible are coming under even greater scrutiny, and that higher sentences are being imposed.
A year on, the courts now have guidance setting out a step-by-step guide for sentencing both companies and individuals for health and safety and food safety offences. The new guidelines have resulted in an escalation in the level of fines being handed down by the courts.
With some of the largest and most well-known UK and global businesses receiving the largest fines last year, there has been increased public interest and media attention on health and safety cases. Steered by the new sentencing guidelines to determine the size of a fine based on company turnover (as well as factors around culpability and harm risks), the courts have sent a clear message to the boardrooms and CEOs of all businesses about the importance and value of protecting human lives, and the cost of failing to do so.
Source: CWU LTB449/17