New sentencing guidelines for gross negligence manslaughter
New sentencing guidelines for gross negligence manslaughter came into effect on the 1st of November. This means those convicted of an offence in England and Wales will face longer prison sentences, up to a maximum of 18 years, as well as compensation orders.
Some recent gross negligence manslaughter cases include two fairground operators being jailed for three years after a seven-year-old girl was killed when a bouncy castle, which wasn’t anchored properly, blew away and hit a tree.
Another case saw a property owner jailed for 30 months when a worker died in a trench that collapsed. He’d refused to buy a trenchbox because he considered it too expensive.
Under the new guidelines, penalties are likely to be much stronger. They will range from one to 18 years in prison, depending on culpability and other criteria.
For example, where negligent behaviour is an uncharacteristic lapse, the starting point is two years, rising to eight or 12 – with an absolute ceiling of 18 – where offenders disregard a high risk of death resulting from their negligence or are driven by profit or cost saving and other factors.
Offenders can also be disqualified from being a director of a company for up to 15 years.
An IOSH representative said that employers must continually review their health and safety arrangements and act on any gaps they find immediately.
“Responsible employers will already be doing this, fully recognising that good health and safety is the right thing to do, is good for business sustainability, and is an investment, not a cost.
“But any less scrupulous operators should be in no doubt that, for those gambling with people’s lives to save up-front costs, prison sentences will now be tougher.”
CXCS recommend the following measures to help keep the HSE from your door:
- Have a look through your Health and Safety Policy to see if it measures up to what you do and what you expect your staff to do for you and update it if necessary.
- Take a look at your risk assessments and see if they cover all the tasks you or your staff carry out on your farm. If not, update them to include the additional risks.
- Keep all your records up to date including servicing of all vehicles, pesticide records and substances hazardous to health.
- Make sure your staff have up to date training for the work they do on your farm.
- Take a bit of time to give your staff a tool box talk, taking them through your risk assessments to make sure they understand them.
- Make sure your staff wear the correct PPE for the tasks they are carrying out.
- Remember that you have a legal and moral obligation to keep your staff safe and allow them to work in a safe environment.