Manufacturing, construction and logistics bore the biggest brunt of heavier fines seen for health and safety offences, a new report published by Clyde & Co says.
It shows fines in the construction sector stood at £13m in the sentencing guidelines’ first 12 months, up from £7m in the previous year – or 83%.
In manufacturing, the sum and increase were even higher, with the sector paying out £22.8m in 2016/17, up from £11.4m – a 99% rise.
The Headlines and high fines report, released 31 July, collected data from HSE as well as over 300 local authorities.
The total sum of fines for both was £76.7m until the year ending 31 January 2017, up from £36.2m in the previous 12 months – an increase of more than double.
Fines collected by local authorities in the last year represented the biggest increase, however from £0.8m up to £15.2m, the equivalent of 1,870%.
Rhian Greaves, legal director at Clyde & Co, commented that even though there had been relatively few prosecutions, “the percentage increase in fines in the local authority enforced sectors is staggering”.
Warehousing firms were hardest hit, with the sector paying out six times as much as the total figure for all local authority cases in the previous year.
“The myriad of risks presented by distribution centres places them at the top of the local authorities’ agendas,” said Greaves.
“With high level racking, mechanical handling equipment and large numbers of employees, agency and gig economy workers, the area presents something of a perfect storm,” she said.
Alongside headline findings, Clyde and Co has also measured support for the sentencing guidelines among businesses. Its survey of operational managers in the sectors disproportionately fined and others, found 90% were in favour of the
new approach taken to health and safety breaches.
Almost half of respondents had seen a positive change in their organisations: “Clients are telling us that interest in compliance has been stimulated and investment in health and safety measures is now more forthcoming as a result,” says the report.
Still, it will take two years for the guidelines to achieve consistency in sentencing, particularly for SME and large firms, it predicts.
Sentencing in Health and Safety: headlines and high fines, a Clyde & Co report can be read here
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