While employers debate whether OSHA should increase fines for safety violations, a new law in Great Britain does just that.
The Health and Safety Offences Act of 2008 raises the maximum fine that lower magistrate courts can impose for almost all safety and health violations to 20,000 pounds (about $29,000 ). The higher Crown Court, which can set unlimited monetary penalties, will also be eligible to hear more cases.
It also makes 12 months in jail a possibility for more types of violations in cases heard in lower courts. Higher courts can issue prison sentences of up to two years.
The Act includes a new threat: imprisonment for any employee who may have contributed to a health and safety violation by their “consent, connivance or neglect.”
The member of Parliament who introduced the Act said prison would be reserved only in the most serious cases.
However, the Act itself doesn’t state clearly which level of employees would be at risk of a jail term.
Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, said, “It is right that there should be a real deterrent to those businesses and individuals that do not take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.”