Higher fines awarded for health and safety breaches

Businesses should take note of a case that illustrates the higher fines which can now be awarded in the magistrates’ court since the Definitive guideline for health and safety offences was introduced on 1 February 2016.

A chemical company was fined £333,000 by magistrates and ordered to pay £110,000 prosecution costs. The company pleaded guilty to offences committed in January 2009, when an uncontrolled release of dangerous substances put both employees and members of the public at risk. Approximately 4,500 people were asked to stay indoors for two to three hours as a result of the phosphorus and phosphine gas release.