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    CONSTRUCTION SECTOR FINED £8M SINCE FEB 2016

    Tougher sentencing guidelines trigger sea change in fine levels

    Legal firm BLM has been monitoring health and safety sentences issued by the UK courts since the introduction of new Sentencing Guidelines in February 2016.

    The firm has now reported that out of 101 health and safety fines issued, 38 per cent affected those in the construction sector and that construction companies have been ordered to pay almost £8m in health and safety fines.

    (Note: Comparison with past data is not provided by BLM although anecdotal evidence suggests a sea change in the level of fines imposed).

    The new guidelines have been described as the most dramatic change to health and safety legislation in over forty years. The size of a business and turnover are now considerations for the court when deciding on the appropriate penalty.

    Large businesses with turnovers in excess of £50 million can face fines of up to £10 million for the most serious health and safety offences and corporate manslaughter fines could reach up to £20 million.

    Three highest account for £5.6m

    The three highest fines alone account for £5.6m in cases which all involved the death of a worker or a member of the public. Directors of two construction companies were also given custodial sentences.

    BLM also found that prosecution costs were substantial and that the biggest three fines resulted in almost £185,000 in prosecution costs.  In total prosecution costs associated with fines to UK construction companies since February reached over £530,000.

    Helen Devery, partner and head of SHE practice at BLM said:

    “These new guidelines have introduced fines that are proportional to the size of the company, meaning that both small and large businesses will feel the same impact.

    It is expected that fines will remain high for larger firms that are charged with serious offences so businesses need to work harder than ever to avoid incidents and the subsequent negative impact on their people, productivity and profits.”

     

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