With stiffer sentencing guidelines for health and safety and corporate manslaughter now in force for England and Wales, the building industry must be even more vigilant when it comes to health and safety compliance, says Gary Plant, Managing Director of Altius.
While businesses may have robust procedures internally, what about health and safety processes across your supply chain, particularly sub contractors?
New sentencing guidelines, which came into force last year, aim to create a consistent, fair and proportionate approach to sentencing organisations or individuals convicted of corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences.
Hitherto, guidance for the courts in dealing with less serious health and safety has been lacking. The comprehensive new guidelines cover the most commonly sentenced health and safety offences in England and Wales.
Large organisations (taking into account turnover or other measures of financial health) committing serious offences are feeling the full force of the changes in higher penalties. The Sentencing Council has stated that some offenders will be subject to higher penalties, particularly large organisations responsible for more serious offences. But it says that fines will be ” fair and proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the means of offenders.” As such, the guidelines set out sentencing ranges that reflect the varied levels of risk of harm that can result from such offences.
The guidelines provide a starting point and a range of possible fines dependent on the seriousness of the offence and how culpable the offender is judged to be. This could range from minor failings in procedures to deliberately dangerous acts. For serious health and safety breaches, individual company directors could face prison sentences and heavy fines.
The new guidelines mean there is nowhere to hide when it comes to facing up to health and safety breaches and even if procedures and policies are robust in your own organisation, you could face exposure from contractors and sub contractors. It is critical for organisations to scrutinise their health and safety policies, training and compliance, and ensure that risk is assessed across the entire supply chain and standards are applied and continuously monitored.
It’s more crucial than ever before to robust compliance procedures. This might mean swapping archaic spreadsheet-based compliance systems for more agile compliance software systems that provide total supply chain visibility and a complete health and safety compliance audit trail that is easily accessible and retrievable should a company end up defending itself.
Altius’ managed compliance services and software solutions help building firms to manage compliance across their entire supply chain.
Altius Exigo software, enables building firms to manage, monitor and maintain continuous contractor and sub contractor compliance. Exigo includes a host of features and tools to help you manage areas such as contractor on-boarding, risk profiling, pre-qualification, contractual compliance, audit management and performance monitoring.
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