From January 2009, executives and managers are at risk of being sent to prison for two years for breach of health and safety legislation. The Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 increases the number of circumstances in which employees may be imprisoned for health and safety breaches.
Employees could find themselves in prison under the new law if they fail to take reasonable care of the health and safety of others or even themselves. In addition, a director and senior manager can infringe the law where the problem was caused with their consent, connivance or neglect. The highest fine that can be imposed by the lower courts has risen from £5,000 to £20,000. Higher courts can impose unlimited fines.
Businesses can protect themselves by ensuring staff are well trained and that documentation and instructions are sent to staff so they are aware of their obligations and directors can, in some cases, protect themselves through taking out insurance policies.
If you need advice on health and safety compliance and the impact of the new law on you, please contact us for further information.