Firms paid over 600 per cent more in health and safety fines last year than the previous two as firms felt the impact of stricter guidelines.
19 fines of over £1 million were issued, compared to three in 2015 and none at all the year earlier.
But this has a healthy impact on employers overall, according to the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which believes it leads bosses will take greater care of their employers now the regulations are tougher.
“The level of fines now being handed out recognises society’s disapproval of serious corporate failures that lead to injury, illness and death,” according to IOSH executive director of policy, Shelley Frost, “Protecting employees and others affected by a business’s operations will not only eliminate the risk of a large financial penalty but can also be key to ensuring and maintaining an organisation’s strong reputation ”
The largest 20 fines for health and safety offenses in 2016 totalled £38.6 million, over £34 million more than 2014, and didn’t necessarily involve death, provided the threat of death was great enough to warrant the penalty.
The largest fine last year was £5 million to Merlin Entertainments after the serious injuries caused at the rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers.
“The increase in fines being issued by the courts demonstrates a desire to drive the message home that ensuring health and safety within a working environment is fundamental,” said Mary Lawrence, IOSH council member and health and safety partner at law firm Osborne Clarke LLP.
“I see many businesses who focus on the safety and health of employees and others experiencing a broad range of benefits, including being better placed to attract and retain talent, scoring points in procurement processes for valuable contracts or even when seeking external investment.”