Health & Safety

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The Health and Safety Offences Act 2008

28 March 2009

The CWU Health, Safety and Environment Dept has been campaigning for some time for harsher penalties for health and safety offences.

A Private Members Bill introduced by Labour MP Keith Hill (Streatham) entitled "The Health and Safety Offences Bill" had government support and progressed through the House of Commons and was sent to the House of Lords for final scrutiny.

Following its successful Third Reading in the House of Lords on 10 October 2008, the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 received Royal Assent on 16 October and came into force on 16 January 2009. The Act fulfils a longstanding Government and HSE commitment to provide the courts with greater sentencing powers for health and safety crimes.

The Act amends section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, to raise maximum penalties available to the courts in respect to certain health and safety offences.

Key areas:

  • raise the maximum fine which may be imposed in the lower courts to 20,000 for most health and safety offences;
  • make imprisonment an option for more health and safety offences in both the lower and higher courts;
  • make certain offences, which are currently triable only in the lower courts, triable in either the lower or higher courts.

Everyone has the right to work in an environment where risks to their health and safety are properly managed, and employers have a duty in law to deliver this.