The Act supports the long held view of Government, HSE, many MPs and others that generally fines for health and safety offences are too low to be an effective deterrent.
The new law, which came into force in January 2009, revises the system of penalties applicable to certain offences relating to health and safety, raising the maximum fine that can be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most offences and a custodial sentence an option for more offences. The main thrust of the legislation is to:
The maximum fine that can be imposed in the higher courts remains unlimited. The chairperson of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Judith Hackett, said the Act imposed no additional duties on small businesses which comply with health and safety law. She championed the legal change as a "real deterrent" to businesses which fail to take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.
"We will retain the important safeguards that ensure that our inspectors use their powers sensibly and proportionately," said Ms Hackett. "We will continue to target those who knowingly cut corners, put lives at risk and who gain commercial advantage over competitors by failing to comply with the law".
An overview of the penalties made possible by this act is shown below.
|Offence||Magistrate's Court||Crown Court|
|Breaches of HASAWA Sections 2 to 8||Fine up up £2000 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment||Unlimited fine and up to 2 years in prison|
|Non compliance notice of improvement or prohibition notice or course order||Fine up up £2000 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment||Unlimited fine and up to 2 years in prison|
|Making a false statement or entry in a register||Fine up to £2000 and/or up to 12 months in prisonment||Unlimited fine and up to 2 years in prison|
|Any other breaches not specified||Fine up to £2000 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment||Unlimited fine and up to 2 years in prison|
|Breaches of general duties under the HASAWA section 9||Fine up to £20,000||Unlimited fine|
|Obstructing and inspector||Fine up to £5000 and/or 51 weeks in prison||Not available|
|To pretend to be an inspector||Fine up to £5000||Not available|
Disclaimer. The legislative information contained on this web site is my interpretation of the law based on many years in the health and safety business. A definitive interpretation can only be given by the courts. I will therefore not be held responsible for any accident/incident/prosecution arising as a consequence of anyone using any information obtained from this web site.
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