New health and safety guidelines: Is your business protected?
Directors of food and drink businesses need to demonstrate their commitment and involvement to improve health and safety in light of new Health & Safety Sentencing Guidelines.
That’s the warning from Arthur J. Gallagher, one of the UK’s largest insurance brokerage and risk management companies, following two recent incidents which illustrate the substantial fines increasingly being imposed on businesses by the courts in response to health and safety cases.
In one case, West Midlands-based distillery Alcohols Ltd has been ordered to pay £295,000 for safety failings, after an employee was trapped in flames and sustained 20% burns to his head, neck and hands during a fire which destroyed the warehouse.
In another case, malting company Pauls Malt Ltd was fined £100,000 for safety failings, after an agency worker fell from a ladder at the firm’s West Knapton factory. Falling two metres, the worker suffered two fractures to his right foot and bruising to his chest and head injuries when he fell.
Introduced on 1 February 2016, the Health & Safety Sentencing Guidelines provided for stricter punishments, not just against companies but also company officers and directors should a serious health and safety incident occur.
Specialists within Gallagher’s dedicated food and drink team are advising company directors and officers to take the necessary steps to demonstrate they take the issue seriously; typically this may include:
- An up to date health and safety risk assessment
- A comprehensive health and safety policy and procedure
- Company-wide health and safety training
- Proof that any health and safety concerns have been documented and addressed at Board level
- Ensuring the appropriate level of insurance provision in place.
Alan Pratten, Managing Director of Gallagher’s Major Risks division, said: “The guidelines represent a real “game changer” in health and safety enforcement, dramatically increasing the potential fines that businesses and individuals may face in the event of a prosecution for offences under health and safety or corporate manslaughter legislation.
“The size of fines now being imposed is large enough to cripple many small to medium-sized food and drink businesses. What’s more the new guidelines mean increased risk for company officers, if serious incidents occur.”
To help businesses ensure they are aware of the impactions of the Sentencing Guidelines, Gallagher has produced a podcast in conjunction with leading global insurance and risk law specialists BLM which is available from www.ajginternational.com.
Mr Pratten added: “We are advising company directors to take a listen to the podcast to better understand how to protect their business and themselves by doing everything they can to mitigate the risk of incidents arising in the first place and managing them effectively and professionally should the worst happen. That means investing time and expertise in proactive risk management and robust record-keeping.”
He concluded: “Having the correct plans will not only benefit individuals and businesses as a whole but also the welfare and health of employees and customers involved in a serious incident.”
The guidelines outline the severity of the offences and the consequences that individuals and companies could face, with the size of the business and the number of affected members also taken into account.