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Sharp Rise in Health and Safety Fines

There has been a substantial increase in the largest fines for health and safety incidents in the UK, with some of the biggest brands in business having to pay millions of pounds for failing to control serious risks to employees and the public.

According to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), there were 19 fines of £1 million or more in 2016, with the largest fine issued amounting to £5 million. This compares with three fines of £1 million or more in 2015 and none in 2014.

The rise in fines is a result of the introduction of new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences, which came into force on 1st February 2016, says IOSH.

"Health and safety offences can ruin lives, devastate families and inhibit precious talent,” commented Shelley Frost, Executive Director of Policy at IOSH.

"Whilst you cannot put a value on human life, the level of fines now being handed out recognises society's disapproval of serious corporate failures that lead to injury, illness and death,” she said. “It reflects a desire to deter others from making the same errors and takes significant steps forward in aligning penalties for these offences with other regulatory breaches in the UK.”

"Protecting employees and others affected by a business's operations will not only eliminate the risk of a large financial penalty but can also be key to ensuring and maintaining an organisation's strong reputation and ultimately contributing to its success,” she added.

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