The Sentencing Council has opened consultation to review the sentencing guidelines for corporate manslaughter and other health and safety offences.
This is the result of increasing dissatisfaction with the lack of comprehensive guidance regarding sentencing when it comes to fatal health and safety offences and corporate manslaughter, and could mean fines of up to £10 million for the most serious health and safety offences and of more than £20 million for organisations convicted of corporate manslaughter.
In 2013/14, there were 133 cases of fatal injuries at work while 70 members of the public were injured in work-related accidents. However, only four convictions for corporate manslaughter have been secured since the inception of the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007. The increased penalties are designed to create a more consistent approach to sentencing for both fatal health and safety offences and corporate manslaughter.
For corporate manslaughter, a medium sized company with a turnover of between £10 million and £50 million could expect a fine with a “starting point” of £3 million for the most serious offence, ranging up to £7.5 million while the starting point for a less serious offence would be £2 million ranging up to £5 million. The current guidance sets a benchmark of just £500,000.
Very large companies, with turnovers substantially higher than £50 million, could see fines in excess of £20 million, the guideline proposes.
For offences prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act or other safety regulations, there is a more complex schedule, but a medium sized company with “medium culpability” for a serious incident would face a fine in the range £300,000 to £1.3 million.