2019 Saw Prosecutions For Health and Safety Breaches Reach a Record Low

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted 394 cases in 2018/9 – 23% less than in 2017/8. This was the lowest number on record for 5 years.

Unite National Officer, Jerry Swain called the figures “deeply concerning” , especially as there has in fact been an increase in injuries occurring.

Swain continued to say that;

… it will likely result in a greater number of workers being injured and possibly killed unless urgent action is taken to reverse this trend. Too many employers in construction remain prepared to ignore safety laws, to boost profits, as they believe that they won’t get caught.

The HSE has questioned whether its national recruitment drive for new inspectors has had any effect – inspectors are currently taking longer to complete investigations. In 2018/9, only 65% of fatal investigations were completed within 12 months of the incident compared to 81% the previous year.

Around £54.5 million in fines were issued last year for health and safety breaches. However the figure was more like £71 million the year before. The average fine has remained the same.

Hence it may be that the drop in fines is a direct correlation with the decrease in the number of completed investigations.