Health and safety fines rise to a maximum of £20m

Companies that breach health and safety law could face fines of up to £20m as of today (1 February) as new sentencing guidelines for health and safety and corporate manslaughter offences come into force.

The guidelines set out tough procedures for how the courts can sentence companies and individuals. Courts will need to take into consideration the degree of harm caused, the culpability of the offender, and the turnover of the organisation when calculating the fine payable in a corporate manslaughter case.

Larger businesses with a turnover of over £50m could face a maximum fine of £20m if found responsible for a death in the workplace, while smaller firms could be forced to pay £180,000. According to the British Safety Council, the largest fine imposed for a health and safety offence to date was £15m to Transco (now National Grid) in 2005.

Such large fines could have a great impact on the profitability of some of the largest HGV operators, and may even result in closure.

It is hoped that the sharp increase in fines will encourage HGV operators and their customers to tighten up their health and safety procedures and discourage their employees from breaking the law. Operators should take this opportunity to ensure compliance and undertake the risk assessments required.

See’s health and safety guide for more.

DVSA names Gareth Llewellyn as chief executive

The DVSA has appointed Gareth Llewellyn as chief executive, after Alastair Peoples stepped down from the role last year. 

Llewellyn, who will start in his new role on 1 April, previously held directorate roles at Network Rail, National Grid and Biffa, among others.

DfT's permanent secretary Philip Rutman said: “The work of DVSA and its dedicated staff is essential in delivering a safe road network for users right across Great Britain.

“I am confident that Gareth will provide excellent leadership to the organisation as it moves forward in a busy and challenging period ahead.”

Rutman also expressed his thanks to interim chief executive Paul Satoor for “the outstanding commitment he has shown during this period”.

Satoor will return to the role of deputy chief executive once Llewellyn has taken over.

Llewellyn said: "The services DVSA provides touch the lives of everyone in Great Britain, whether it be through enabling people to drive or ensuring vehicles are safe to take to the road.

“The professionalism of everyone at the DVSA will enable us to respond to the ever changing expectations of our customers, helping them travel safely every day.”