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New crackdown on safety breaches

16 June, 2008  

Organisations and individuals who breach health and safety laws look set to face tougher penalties after a new Bill won the backing of MPs.

Labour former minister Keith Hill’s Health and Safety (Offences) Bill will now go to the Lords after being given an unopposed third reading in the Commons.

If, as is expected, the Bill reaches the statute book it would see the maximum fine in magistrates’ courts raised to £20,000 for most offences. Imprisonment would also be made an option for a wider range of breaches.

Mr Hill said his aim was to “punish the criminally negligent who put life and limb in danger in the workplace, to deter those who are tempted to cut costs by breaking the law, and to render faster and more efficient justice”.

The Bill was welcomed by junior work and pensions minister Anne McGuire, who said it was important that penalties “fully reflected the seriousness of offences” and deterred irresponsible behaviour.

Europe’s largest health and safety professional body, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), also welcomed the news. “We hope this Bill will become law soon and help provide a safety boost for Britain,” IOSH president Ray Hurst said.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

Health and Safety (Offences) Bill