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Health And Safety Offences Act

The Act, which received Royal Assent on 17th October 2008 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 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:

  • Raise the maximum fine which may be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most health and safety offences.
  • Give both the higher and lower courts the option to imprison employers for a greater number of offences.
  • Make certain offences, which previously could only be tried in the lower courts, triable in both the lower and higher courts

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 new 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
Copyright 2019 Tony Sellick | Site Updated 01-Nov-2021