The Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 came into force on 16 January 2009. This Act increases penalties and provides courts with greater sentencing powers for health and safety offences in a workplace. In particular it
- raises the maximum fine which may be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most health and safety offences
- makes imprisonment an option for more health and safety offences in both the lower and higher courts
- allows certain offences, currently processed only in the lower courts, to be tried in either the lower or higher courts.
The new law, however, does not impose any new duties on businesses, the HSE’s practices of enforcing the law don’t change either. The health and safety inspectors should use their powers ‘sensibly and proportionately’, targeting their activities at those who purposely cut corners, endanger employees’ lives and gain commercial advantage over competitors by failing to comply with the Act.
All employers have obligations under health and safety law and must provide a working environment where risks to their employees’ health and safety are minimised and properly managed.
Businesses which employ five and more people must have a written Health & Safety policy statement and be available to view for all employees.
We recommend that all companies, regardless of the number of employees, have a written health and safety policy demonstrating the company’s commitment to the safety of all people affected by the business, including employees, sub-contractors, visitors and customers. It should also describe how certain health and safety issues should be handled when they arise.
Our specialists can prepare a health & safety policy for your company. For more information about our service please visit the Health & Safety policy section on our website.