Some recent court cases have highlighted the affect of heavier penalties since the implementation of the Definitive Guideline for the Sentencing of Health and Safety, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene offences. These came into effect in February 2016 and followed the publication of the guidelines in November 2015.
A recent high profile case involving actor Harrison Ford resulted in Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, which is owned by Disney, admitted two breaches under health and safety law being fined ｣1.6m million.
Hollywood star Harrison Ford was crushed by an hydraulic door on the set of the Millennium Falcon spaceship while filming the latest Star Wars movie.
From 1 February 2016, courts have been required to consider a number of separate steps including:
- the seriousness of the offence by determining the risk of harm (low, medium or high) and culpability of an offender;
- the appropriate starting point and category range for an offence, based on a company’s turnover, using tables provided in the Guideline. There are five categories of organisation ranging from micro (where turnover is not more than ￡2 million) to “very large” (where the offending organisation’s turnover very greatly exceeds the threshold for large organisations, namely ￡50 million and over)
There are several additional factors the courts have to consider, but what is apparent is that no employer is exempt, there being a micro category.
The message is clear. Consider carefully before asking staff to undertake tasks and ensure appropriate measures are in place to ensure their safety.