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November 3rd - Health & Safety (Offences) Act 2008

New legislation, the Health and Safety Offences Act 2008, which will increase penalties and provide courts with greater sentencing powers for those who flout health and safety legislation has been welcomed by DWP Ministers.

The Act raises the maximum penalties that can be imposed for breaching health and safety regulations in the lower courts from £5,000 to £20,000 and the range of offences for which an individual can be imprisoned has also been broadened.

DWP Minister Lord McKenzie said:

“It is generally accepted that the level of fines for some health and safety offences is too low. These changes will ensure that sentences can now be more easily set at a level to deter businesses that do not take their health and safety management responsibilities seriously and further encourage employers and others to comply with the law."

“Furthermore, by extending the £20,000 maximum fine to the lower courts and making imprisonment an option, more cases will be resolved in the lower courts and justice will be faster, less costly and more efficient."

“Jail sentences for particularly blameworthy health and safety offences committed by individuals, can now be imposed reflecting the severity of such crimes, whereas there were more limited options in the past."

“I am delighted that this legislation is now on the statute book and very grateful to my colleagues Keith Hill MP and Lord Bruce Grocott for introducing the Bill and for the support received from all sides of both Houses of Parliament.”

The Act amends Section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and raises the maximum penalties available to the courts in respect of certain health and safety offences. It received Royal Assent on 16 October 2008 and will come into force in three months time, in January 2009


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