PIP Services Ltd is committed to offering the best training and consultancy services, ensuring that people understand their responsibilities and can maximise health and safety. In order to achieve the highest standards we also keep a close eye on relevant industry news and changes in our field.
One of the biggest recent news stories in our field is the introduction of new sentencing guidelines. They propose that jail terms of up to 18 years should be charged when individuals are found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter. That means a severe punishment for anybody found to have caused a death by cutting costs and failing to meet relevant standards. A jail term of up to 8 years can also be charged if a health and safety failure is allowed to persist for weeks and if the individuals responsible were aware of the risks but took no action.
Gross negligence manslaughter is currently the most serious offence that individuals can be charged in regards to health and safety failures. The new guidelines have a step by step guide that judges should follow.
The new longer sentences are expected to come into force starting in December 2018. This means that offences committed in 2017 could be punished under the new guide if they are delayed long enough to be heard in court and judged after the introduction.
The new sentences will be determined based on the level of culpability. There will be four levels; low, medium, high, and very high. The jail term that can be charged will vary to suit each level, ranging from 2 years to 12 years as starting points. Additional time can be added based on the severity of the case and specific factords. For example 18 years could be charged for very high culpability where numerous people have been put at risk.
The new sentencing guidelines will have a huge impact on workplaces. Individuals in positions of authority will have to be even more careful to ensure they meet health and safety requirements. They also need to be aware that failing several things could lead to a higher culpability. For example failing to take action to an identified risk would be high. Doing so for financial reasons would also be. Do both and culpability becomes very high.
The draft of the new sentencing guidelines is currently open for consultation until 10th October 2017. Interested or concerned parties can respond and air their opinion.
As always the best way to avoid a jail term is to ensure individuals understand their responsibility and focus on improving health and safety in the workplace. To achieve this they need to have the right training.