Health and Safety

Construction health and safety fines double

Construction fines more than doubled in 2016, making it the most costly sector for health and safety in the UK.

BLM’s health and safety tracker found that fines against construction companies totalled £13.6m last year, up from £6.6m in 2015.

The surge followed a change in legislation in February 2016, which now requires courts to consider culpability, seriousness and likelihood of harm, as well as the size of a business and its turnover when imposing fines.

“The new sentencing guidelines send a strong message to all businesses big or small: it is people and business critical to ensure that safety processes and systems are a board level priority,” said Helen Devery, partner and head of health and safety at insurance and risk law firm BLM.

“The introduction of the risk of harm means that near misses will be reviewed and subject to potential prosecution so this has been a game-changing 12 months for the industry.”

Companies across the UK were forced to pay out over £61m in health and safety fines in 2016, marking a 148% rise on the previous year.

After construction, manufacturing and utilities were the next most costly, racking up bills of £12m and £8.4m respectively.

Meanwhile, agriculture saw the biggest improvement, with fines dropping from £1.8m in 2015 to just £340,400 last year.

“Robust and proactive audit processes which interrogate and improve systems will be seen as best practice and at the heart of this is a commitment to effective risk assessment and training across all parts of the business,” added Helen.

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