Health and Safety Fines Increase
By Mark Foley
The HSE has kept its promise to get tough with offenders. The HSE's Director General stated in the latest annual report " The deterrent message has been too weak. I am encouraged to see that average fine per case in 2001/2002 was 39% higher than before. I hope it is a step towards fines which are truly proportionate to seriousness and which better reflect huge variations in the wealth of organisations."
The HSE now has a policy of naming the offenders and penalties imposed. Their details are published on the HSE's website of convictions.
The average fine amount and the total number of prosecutions have increased significantly over the past year. The average fine is now over £12,000.
The Director General's introductory comments draw attention to the balance of the seriousness of offences matching the penalties and the wealth and stature of organisations and individuals involved. Total fines for the UK increased by 25% to £10,000,000 and 84% of Health and Safety Executive prosecutions were successful, with individual fines increasing by over 30%.
By industry sector, the construction industry has seen an increase in prosecutions by 62%, manufacturing by 47% and extractive industries by 20%. Apart from service industries and agriculture, all sectors had an increase in the average fine for offences.
The fines levied included £750,000 - an oil refinery, £350,000 - a home provider and £250,000 - a chemical company. Other organisations receiving substantial penalties include two London boroughs, the London Underground, recycling and environmental companies.
Forty of the fifty-five prosecutions against individuals were successful. They included 31 charges against directors and managers, of which 23 led to conviction. The overall average fine for these offences was £3,098, a marked increase on the previous year's average of £1,041.
The Director General is encouraged by people now giving more priority to organisations' health and safety track record, but emphasises the need for tough enforcement when performance is, or falls, below legal requirements.