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A move to introduce tougher penalties for health and safety offences will place greater pressure than ever on directors and senior managers, says law firm DWF.
It says the Health and Safety (Offences) Bill, which received widespread support in the House of Commons and is now due to go before the House of Lords, could mean directors facing prison sentences over incidents for which they were not directly responsible.
The private member’s bill, introduced by MP Keith Hill, will effectively raise the maximum fine which could be imposed in the lower courts for most health and safety offences to £20,000 and allow some offences to be tried in higher courts, which have the power to pass even stiffer penalties.
It would also make prison an option for most health and safety offences – currently it is only an option in certain cases. It is the fifth time a Bill has attempted to raise penalties for health and safety offences but the first time one looks likely to be passed.
Stefan Groch, health, safety and regulatory partner with DWF, says: “The bill has particularly strong implications for directors and senior managers. Where the company is found to have committed an offence which can be attributed to them failing to meet their obligations, they could potentially face a jail sentence.
“Coming so soon after the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act, this places a further burden of responsibility on business leaders. They should be taking all necessary measures to protect their position, including ensuring that all the right policies and procedures are in place and that there is a clear chain of command with regard to health and safety.”
Notes to editors:
DWF LLP is one of the fastest growing regional law firms in the UK. With over 880 people based in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston, DWF provides a range of services grouped under the following practice areas:
Banking & Finance
DWF has developed extensive sector-specific expertise in a number of areas including: automotive, education, retail & leisure, legal expenses and food and resourcing.
Further information on DWF is available via www.dwf.co.uk.
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