Thursday, February 12, 2009

“Managers face losing their homes” over Health & Safety fines?

I have posted recently on “Directors face Porridge over ‘elf & Safety” here. But I was surprised to find out for the first time here that the new Health & Safety Offenses Act not only increased the range of offences that could result in imprisonment but also that the much heavier fines that are now in place “must be paid personally and cannot lawfully be paid by the employer under an indemnity or by insurers”. I didn’t realise this. The maximum fines in magistrate Courts are now £20,000 per offence. Crown Courts remain unlimited. Often offenders are charged with more than one offence.

I fully support this in principal because I have come across managers in the past who have made it clear that they consider health & safety failures are the companies’ liability not their personal concern. They were just not interested and considered other issues more important.

When I mentioned the personal liability for fines to a very experienced UNISON rep she admitted that was also unaware of this but she responded by saying “that means managers risk losing their own homes”.

Which I hadn’t thought of before and is of course true and in public services this will also mean that the managers will also probably be UNISON members as well. We need to get the message over that Health & Safety issues are vital and an absolute priority. It should not be ignored or sidelined. Often (not always) junior managers are pressured by more senior management to take risks with staff safety and not fully comply with the law. This must stop and at all levels everyone should realise the consequences of failing to protect those you have a duty of care to look after.

Of course, working in public housing, I am a firm believer in the philosophy that if it can go wrong – eventually - it will.


Jackart said...

Do I read you correctly?

Managers losing their homes for professional mistakes, against which risk they cannot insure and the only reason you oppose this is that they might be Unison members.

This happening to someone in the private sector would of course be a "fat-cat" getting his comeuppance?

Is that what you're saying?

John Gray said...

Hi Jackart

We are talking about criminal activity not just “professional mistakes” and yes I am worried about junior managers (regardless of sector) being scapegoated for senior management cock-ups and disinterest. It happens.