Putting a price on road risk safety
Under the new regime, if a work-related road death leads to a prosecution for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the fine will be '…seldom less than £100,000 and may be measured in hundreds of thousands of pounds or more'.
And if the organisation is convicted of corporate manslaughter, the fine imposed will be '…seldom less than £500,000 and may be measured in millions of pounds'.
In addition, the Magistrates Court has been given greater powers to deal with health and safety-related offences. This means the UK authorities will be encouraged to launch more prosecutions of fleets involved in road accidents, as these cases will be dealt with more quickly than if the Crown Court was involved.
Magistrates now have the power to impose fines of up to £20,000 for minor breaches of health and safety law.
As a result, fleets are being warned that it is time to address the issue of road risk or face serious financial consequences. The warning comes from Essential Risk Consultancy (ERC), the firm behind the Road Risk Answers software.
David Faithful, lawyer for Essential Risk Consultancy, said: 'Up until now it's been hard to put a price on getting it wrong when it comes to road risk. That's no longer the case. At the bottom end of the spectrum, a simple breach of health and safety law could cost fleets up to £20,000.
'If someone is killed in a work-related road accident, the fine will be at least £100,000, or half a million pounds minimum if corporate manslaughter is proved, with no top limit on how much it could cost.'
The new guidelines also set out that convicted organisations may have to publish the details of their conviction, with the attendant damage to their reputation. They go on to advise what factors the Court should take into account when considering the seriousness of the offence, including what steps were taken to minimise risk.
Jeremy Hay, managing director of ERC, added: 'Any fleet that has not yet taken every precaution to protect itself and its drivers should see these guidelines as the final wake-up call. Organisations need to get expert advice and take a responsible attitude to the health and safety of employees behind the wheel. It's not an expensive or complicated process: in fact, with the recession still biting it's a vital cost-saving exercise as well.'
To underline the message, ERC is offering fleets a free trial of Road Risk Answers. For further details, visit http://www.roadriskanswers.co.uk