UK Issues Second Annual 'Offences and Penalties Report'

The enforcement agency for the UK's occupational health and safety regulations prosecuted 2,077 violations in 2000-2001.

The UK''s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued the second annual "Offences and Penalties Report," which identifies hundreds of companies and organizations convicted of health and safety crimes during 2000/2001. The report is one of the commitments listed in the "Revitalising Health and Safety" strategy that was published in June 2000.

The report identifies nearly 1,500 separate health and safety violations and includes several big-name companies, as well as small firms, local authorities, hospitals, universities and individuals throughout Britain. HSE''s public register of convictions, which was launched last year, continues to provide full details of each conviction and can be found at www.hse-databases.co.uk/prosecutions.

"This report builds on the success of last year''s ''Offences and Penalties Report''. I hope it will continue to create pressure for improvement on those who have failed in their health and safety responsibilities towards workers and the general public. I also hope it will deter others, who will not want to be identified in this way," said HSE Director General Timothy Walker.

"Of course, I would much prefer health and safety failures not to occur in the first place - and much of what HSE does is aimed at prevention. But when breaches do occur, I make no apology for making available information which identifies those responsible," he added.

During 2000-2001, HSE prosecuted for a total of 2,077 violations and gained convictions for more than 70 percent of them. The agency issued a total of 11,058 enforcement notices over the same period.

"All the cases that we bring to court involve serious breaches of the criminal law. We have set out in the report a few examples which illustrate the seriousness of the offenses we are talking about and the level of fines that the courts have considered appropriate," said Walker.

Walker said the report is designed to help everyone with an interest in an company''s safety performance - in particular would-be customers, investors, employees or insurers - to find out about convictions and to create pressure for health and safety improvements.

"I hope that more of those who buy products or services will consult this report, and the additional information on our Web site, and take it into account in deciding who to do business with," Walker concluded. "This will help give a competitive edge to organizations who strive to safeguard people''s health and safety by complying with the law."

The "Offences and Penalties Report" is in two parts. The first contains a commentary on trends in the general level of penalties, a brief look at enforcement issues in specific industrial sectors, how those sectors need to improve and what the HSE is doing to help achieve this. The second lists convictions during the year, with additional detail provided on the database.

The convictions database contains more information about the circumstances of the particular cases. It can be searched in a variety of ways, including by geographical area down to the local authority where the violation occurred; by industry; by size of fine; by whether there was a fatality; by type of work activity; by whether it involved non-compliance with an enforcement notice and many more.

Copies of HSE''s "Offences and Penalties Report 2000-2001" are free of charge and available on HSE''s Web site at www.hse.gov.uk. For printed copies, contact Ade Ibironke at 020 7717 6410.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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