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Tougher penalties for health and safety offences

New legislation under the Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 will increase penalties and provide courts with greater sentencing powers for those who flout health and safety legislation.

The Act will increase the maximum level of penalties that can be imposed by the lower courts on those who breach health and safety regulations from £5,000 to £20,000. It also increases the range of offences for which an individual can be imprisoned. The legislation, which received Royal Assent on 16 October 2008, will come into force in January 2009.

DWP Minister Lord McKenzie said:

“It is generally accepted that the level of fines for some health and safety offences is too low. These changes will ensure that sentences can now be more easily set at a level to deter businesses that do not take their health and safety management responsibilities seriously and further encourage employers and others to comply with the law.

Furthermore, by extending the £20,000 maximum fine to the lower courts and making imprisonment an option, more cases will be resolved in the lower courts and justice will be faster, less costly and more efficient.”

Internet link: DWP press release

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