Retail businesses to be punished for health and safety negligence

Health and safety offences bill on the way

If passed, the Health and Safety offences bill could sting retailers in the UK, Eversheds has warned. Having received its second reading in the House of Lords on July 4th, the bill looks set for eventual Royal Assent, making it law in the UK.

The bill was introduced by Labour MP for Streatham, Keith Hill, whose aim, according to the Retail Bulletin, was to "punish the criminally negligent who put life and limb in danger in the workplace, and to deter those who are tempted to cut costs by breaking the law".

The law could affect the bike trade in particular, due to the use of workshops and also problems encountered with store layout in smaller premises.

The Bill sets out the following proposals:

• raising the maximum fine which may be imposed in the Magistrates’ Courts for breaches of health and safety regulations from £5,000 to £20,000 (the Crown Court’s ability to impose unlimited fines for such breaches remains unchanged)

• making imprisonment an option for more health and safety offences in both the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts; and

• allowing certain offences, which are currently only triable in the Magistrates’ Court, to be heard in either the Magistrates’ or the Crown Court, where the fines imposed would be unlimited.

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