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2020 / 2021 Edition

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HSE report names the guilty

COMPANIES, organizations and individuals must be held accountable for their health and safety performance - their professional reputation should depend on it. These were the words of HSE director general Timothy Walker, commenting on the recent publication of the Health and Safety Executive's first ever enforcement report, which gives details of all health and safety convictions during 1999/2000.

Implementing a commitment in the Government's and the Health & Safety Commission's 'Revitalizing Health and Safety' strategy, the report lists around 1,600 individual offences and includes several big-name companies. Full details of each conviction are available on a special website databases:

'The convictions are there for everyone to see, including would-be customers, contractors, investors, employees and insurers,' said Mr Walker. 'I want this report to create pressure to improve on those who have failed in their responsibilities, and I also hope it will deter others who will not want to be named in this way.'

Mr Walker also criticised the low general level of fines still being handed down by Britain's courts, which currently average under œ7,000.

'Society has a right to expect that, when a business or individual is found guilty, the penalty handed down by the courts reflects the seriousness of the offence,' he said. 'This is simply not happening enough.'

As well as stiffer penalties under existing law, Mr Walker also called for tougher new penalties and more widely available prison sentences, as laid out in the 'Revitalizing Health and Safety' strategy. He said he was hopeful that the Government would proceed quickly to introduce the proposed manslaughter legislation, thereby creating a new offence of corporate killing.


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