The British Safety Council said the new Act, which threatens employers with prison over health and safety offences, would help increase internal controls
The British Safety Council (BSC) welcomed the introduction of the Health and Safety (Offences) Act.
The new act came into effect on January 16. It increases fines for most existing health and safety offences from £5,000 to £20,000 and creates the threat of imprisonment for all employees who may have contributed to a health and safety offence by their consent, connivance or neglect.
The BSC said the Act would help to strengthen awareness of the need to maintain vigorous risk controls and safety management systems to avoid costly payouts, fines and even imprisonment.
Brian Nimick, chief executive of the BSC said: ‘With the new risk of higher fines and possible imprisonment for health and safety offences, this law should act as a deterrent and increase awareness of the need to adequately train and protect workers. Risks including accidents, illness and even deaths among the workforce could cost far more in the long term than the short term savings gained from cutting back on training.’
Personal injury claims could also rise in the absence of adequate training and H&S management systems (with an average cost to businesses of £30,000 per claim), said the BSC.
229 workers were killed at work in 2007/08
34 million working days were lost overall to work-related illness and injury
Annual bill for employers in payouts and costs for accidents and injuries at work is Â£7.8 billion
Cost to the overall economy of Â£31.8 billion, the health and safety risk is costing the nation Â£1000 every second
Agriculture and construction have the highest rates of fatal injury. agriculture there were 39 fatal injuries, construction there were 72 fatal injuries in 2007/08
The most common kinds of reported injuries to workers in all industries occur as a result of handling, or slips and trips