Penalties for Not Protecting Lone Workers

What if the worst happens?

Aside from the obvious human cost of tragedy - there are a number of financial implications should the worst occur, and a team member is seriously injured or killed at work. Any organisation (or individual) found to have a case to answer with regards to working practices that contribute to such an outcome, incurs a significant financial risk.

Health and Safety legislation in the UK is enforced by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and where deemed appropriate, (often because of serious criminal offences arising from the same circumstances) by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in England and Wales, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in Scotland, or the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in Northern Ireland.

The most recent guidelines for Health and Safety and Corporate Manslaughter offences, issued by the Sentencing Council, introduced stricter penalties in order to serve as a serious deterrent for poor practice. With a greater emphasis on:

  • Culpability
  • Level of harm (likely or actual)
  • Financial information (of an organisation or individual)

This is reflected in the following statement taken from the guidelines:

"a fine must be sufficiently substantial to have a real economic impact, which will bring home to both management and shareholders the need to comply". 

Enforcement data is published by the Health and Safety Executive, and the most recent data shows fines of £35.77 million imposed for safety offences prosecuted, during the period 2019-20.

Many organisations of all sizes, are now taking note of the increased penalties and planning accordingly - utilising a lone worker solution like SoloProtect can be a proactive measure to invest in the safety of lone workers, in order to demonstrate duty of care.

Breaches in Health and Safety legislation:

By Organisations:

Re: Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (section 33 (1) (a) for breaches of sections 2 and 3)
Re: Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (section 33(1)(c))

For breaches under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA), offence penalties take into account four levels of culpability (very high, high, medium and low), and four levels of harm (1 is highest, 4 is lowest).

Any offender is required to supply financial information for the previous three years, in order for the appropriate level of penalty to be imposed. For a full list of fine thresholds, please see pages 7 - 10 of the guidelines (hyperlinked above in paragraph 3).

To demonstrate how fine levels have increased, please see a couple of examples below:

Large Organisation (Turnover > £50 million):
Very high culpability / Harm category 1
Starting point = £4 million

Medium Organisation (Turnover £10 to £50 million):
Medium culpability / Harm category 1
Starting point = £540k

Small Organisation (Turnover £2 to £10 million):
High culpability / Harm category 2
Starting point =  £100k

There are a number of aggravating factors that are deemed to increase culpability, including:

  • Cost cutting at the expense of safety
  • Poor health and safety record

By individuals:

Re: Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (section 33 (1) (a) for breaches of sections 2, 3 and 7)
Re: Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (section 33(1)(c))
Re: Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (sections 36 and 37(1) for breaches of sections 2 and 3 and section 33(1)(c))

As with organisations, when looking at breaches by an individual, the same metrics for culpability and level of harm risked are applied to the case. Similar aggravating, or indeed mitigating factors, can also be considered.

Penalties can range from the imprisonment of an individual to a fine based directly on a person's earnings. For a situation involving very high culpability and a harm category 1, the starting point recommendation is 18 months' custody, with a category range of 1 - 2 years' custody.

Fine bands can start at 50% of relevant weekly income (Band A) and go up to 600% of relevant weekly income (Band F). For context, Band F is considered an alternative to a community order or custody in the context of the guideline.

This represents not only a risk of imprisonment but a serious financial penalty on anyone deemed responsible for failings leading to a breach. This does not solely affect company directors or a board, this can impact managers within an organisation and upwards.

Corporate Manslaughter:

Corporate manslaughter is a criminal offence, and as such is enforced by the CPS.

The sentencing guidelines for Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Offences are listed below. Please note, a Category A offence denotes a higher level of culpability.

Large Organisation (Turnover > £50 million):
Category A offence -
Starting point = £7.5 million       Range = £4.8 to £20 million
Category B offence -
Starting point = £5 million          Range = £3 to £12.5 million

Medium Organisation (Turnover £10 - 50 million):
Category A offence -
Starting point = £3 million          Range = £1.8 to £7.5 million
Category B offence -
Starting point = £2 million          Range = £1.2 to £5 million

Small Organisation (Turnover £2 - 10 million):
Category A offence -
Starting point = £800k               Range = £540k to £2.8 million
Category B offence -
Starting point = £540k               Range = £350k to £2 million

Micro Organisation (Turnover < £2 million):
Category A offence -
Starting point = £450k               Range = £270k to £800k
Category B offence -
Starting point = £300k               Range = £180k to £540k


Business Case Support

Business Case Support

You can read more about the benefits of investing in a personal safety or lone working solution in our Business Case Support document - available on the Knowledge Base.


For more information about implementing SoloProtect to reduce risk to your team(s) and employer, please contact SoloProtect.

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