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31st October 2016

Number of Directors Prosecuted by HSE Trebles in a Year

The number of company directors who have been prosecuted for health and safety offences has trebled in a year, according to recent research using data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The research shows that the number of company directors and managers prosecuted by the HSE in the year to 31 March 2016 was 46, compared to 15 in the previous year. According to the research of the 46 prosecutions in 2015/16, 34 were found guilty and 12 were given prison sentences, with the longest prison sentence imposed at two years.

In stark contrast to this figure, the number of employees who were prosecuted by the HSE in 2015/16 has fallen from 10 in the previous year, to just one!

The data confirms what we’ve been seeing in practice with the HSE displaying an increased enthusiasm to prosecute the most senior individuals with a business, yet virtually ignoring employees who are frequently more culpable.

While the majority of director prosecutions relate to SME businesses, it should be noted that the new sentencing guidelines with turnover related fines for health and safety breaches has created a new set of worries for directors of all sized businesses.

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