A couple of years ago, the Sentencing Council published guidelines that reveal new fines for health and safety offences.
The updated sentencing guidelines further highlight the need for all businesses to invest in occupational health and safety courses.
Are you responsible for health and safety legislation compliance at your organisation? It is vital that all HR professionals that have a role to play in H&S are fully aware of the new guidelines and what they entail. Otherwise, the company you work for could end up facing prosecution, which will, of course, result in devastating consequences for your business.
The most notable aspect of the new guidelines is the enormous increase in company fines for those that are prosecuted. The most serious health and safety offences can result in fines of £10 million while suggested fines for corporate manslaughter could reach £20 million. When you compare these figures with previous fines, you see a huge difference. Fines for health and safety offences that cause death have totalled £100,000 and upwards. While corporate manslaughter offences have begun at £500,000. No maximum amounts were specified, however, research has indicated that fines barely reached the minimums that have been stated in many cases.
There has been a distinct lack of consistency in terms of sentencing for firms that have not been keeping warehouse employees safe and construction employees safe because of the fact that the courts do not handle health and safety matters on a regular basis. There has long been a concern that the fines, especially for bigger companies, were not large enough to reflect the seriousness of the harm that has been caused. However, the new guidelines aim to put an end to this. When fines are determined under the new guidelines, the following is considered – the amount of harm done, the degree of culpability, the potential impact on employees, profit margin, and turnover.
More offences are covered in the guidelines as well. Previously, only health and safety offences that caused death and corporate manslaughter were covered by guidelines. However, a huge range of offences are now covered, including inadequate risk assessments, neglecting care home residents, improper hygiene that leads to an outbreak of food poisoning, and such like.
You are also required to supply comprehensive accounting information if you are convicted. This is so the court is able to accurately assess your financial status. It is imperative that you provide accurate records. If you fail to supply reliable information, or you do not give enough monetary data, you could be subject to a fine of any size.
When it comes to these sentences, the best approach to take is, of course, prevention. Thus, you need to ensure that your business is adhering to all of the health and safety rules that are in place, and that all staff have undergone the necessary health and safety training.
Consider the Site Management Safety Training Scheme
SMSTS stands for Site Management Safety Training Scheme, which is one of several courses that have been created within the Site Safety Plus Scheme by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). As there are several courses to select from, a lot of people can feel a bit at a loss when choosing one. To give you a helping hand, we have put together all of the basic information you need to know about the SMSTS course. So, read on to discover more.
What is SMSTS?
This is a course that is designed to teach all candidates on the moral, social, and legal responsibilities regarding health and safety in the workplace. It is designed for site supervisors, site managers, construction site owners, and project managers in particular. This qualification is mandatory for anyone who wishes to work for the main contractors who are part of the United Kingdom Contractors Group (UKCG) as a Site Manager. Members include the likes of Skanska and Costain. Moreover, while this is not a mandatory qualification for all site managers across all construction sites in the United Kingdom, it does come highly recommended, and it will be something that is considered when applying for a job.
Why do you need the SMSTS course?
The construction industry is the most dangerous industry in the United Kingdom, with 27 per cent of all fatal work accidents occurring within this sector. What makes this more alarming is the fact that only five per cent of workers in the United Kingdom work in construction. Therefore, adopting safe working practises is imperative. SMSTS will ensure you abide by all legal requirements while also upholding your moral obligation to keep your workforce safe. Moreover, it will also result in cost savings for your business by eliminating any accidents at work, which will be time-consuming and can result in monumental fines.
What will I learn on the course?
There are various modules of the course. The content includes maintaining a positive health and safety culture, and the best practices for doing so, RIDDOR regulation reporting requirements, safety considerations in a whole host of different operational scenarios, including confined spaces, electrical works, working at heights, and excavations, safe site set-up, risk assessments, and, of course, the legal background so that you know the regulations you must adhere to, such as the CDM Regulations 2007 and the Health and Safety at Work Act.
What are the outcomes of the SMSTS training course?
The course lasts for five days, and it is up to you whether you take a week-long intensive course, or you attend a course one day a week for five weeks. Once you complete the training course, you will receive a certificate, which is valid for a period of five years. Once this period is up, you will need to refresh your knowledge and skills. In order to complete the course, you need to attend and complete all course days, pass exercises throughout the training period, and pass a multiple choice examination at the end of the course.