On 16th January 2009, the Health and Safety (Offences) Act came into force. The act increases the penalties for those who had committed offences under the 1974 Health and Safety Act, as well as granting courts harsher sentencing powers.
The Act is a result of a review of the maximum penalties for health and safety offences. The Home Office, the Health and Safety Executive and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions carried out this joint review between February and September 1999.
What are the main effects of the Health and Safety (Offences) Act?
The 2008 Act does not introduce any more health and safety offences. The main effects of the act involve imposing greater penalties on those who break health and safety law.
- The maximum fine which may be imposed as a fine for most health and safety offences in the magistrates’ courts was raised from £5,000 to £20,000
- Imprisonment was introduced as an option for more health and safety offences in both the magistrates’ courts and crown courts
- Certain offences, that were once only permitted to be tried in the magistrates’ courts are now triable in both the magistrates’ courts and crown courts due to the Health and Safety (Offences) Act of 2008
‘A real deterrent’
The 2008 Health and Safety (Offences) Act was welcomed by the Health and Safety Executive. Judith Hackitt, the Chair of the Health and Safety Executive stated:
“This act gives lower courts the power to impose higher fines for some health and safety offences. It is right that there should be a real deterrent to those businesses and individuals that do not take their health and safety responsibilities seriously. Everyone has the right to work in an environment where risks to their health and safety are properly managed, and employers have a duty in law to deliver this.”
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