Motor claims frequency is on the rise on more crowded roads, as too the cost of claims particularly where people are injured or killed. There is no let up as the Government squeezes revenue from areas previously only lightly touched upon. Most immediate is of course Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) increased to 9.5% on 1st November and just two days later The Sentencing Council issued its guidelines of “Health and Safety Offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety and food hygiene offences”.
The guidance comes into force on 1st February 2016 and very simply it will mean substantial increases in the level of fines imposed by the courts for Health and Safety offences and Corporate Manslaughter for businesses and an increased likelihood of going to jail for individual offenders. It is likely that we will seeincreases in prosecution and defence costs. The stakes are higher. In addition, companies need to really understand the true cost of a regulatory investigation into a workplace accident.
The financial implications of a serious workplace accident are eye watering. The courts will assess Culpability – the failure to meet standards and judged in four categories from very high to low. They will then assess Harm – again in four categories.
The new sentencing guidelines has the prospect of multi-million pound fines for larger organisations. Just take a Large organisation (£50m t/o and above ). A serious offence has a starting point of £4m fine increased to £10m. Corporate manslaughter offences will attract significantly higher penalties – £20m. The courts may also find it necessary to go beyond the guidelines where an organisation turnover greatly exceeds £50m.
All Directors should take an increased focus in ensuring that Health and Safety is well managed. Never more so than right now as the regulatory challenges tighten.