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IOSH backs tougher penalties for 'rogue' bosses

Tougher penalties for employers who fail to fulfil their duties in protecting employees from injury and illness should be welcomed, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said.

Changes introduced under the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 have led to more cases being tried in the lower courts, higher fines handed out to convicted offenders and more custodial sentences for bosses who pay scant regard to the welfare of their staff or the public, according to a recently published Government report.

Minister of State for Health and Safety Mike Penning said the handing of greater sentencing powers to magistrates and sheriffs “sent a clear message” to employers that they faced heavy penalties, including a jail term in worst cases, if they shirked their responsibilities.

IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said: “We welcome the Government’s review of the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 and the Minister’s message that rogue employers who gamble with workers’ health and safety will face stiff penalties.

“It’s important for the unscrupulous to know that average fines for breaches of health and safety regulations have increased by 60% and for those also involving the Health and Safety at Work Act, by 25%.

“Nearly 350 cases were given fines over £5,000, exceeding the maximum previously given by the lower courts. It’s vital that sentences act as a deterrent and better reflect the gravity of health and safety breaches, which can lead to serious injury, illness or death.”

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