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A local solicitor has highlighted an important new piece of legislation

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A local solicitor has highlighted an important new piece of legislation that will affect every business, but that has largely missed the media spotlight thanks to the current preoccupation with the economy. According to Peter Littlefield of Gepp & Sons in Chelmsford, "This is the Health & Safety (Offences) Act 2008, which has been in effect since last January. "There are two aspects that I would call 'headline news'. First, it increases upper limits on fines for most health and safety offences in the Magistrate's Court from £5,000 to £20,000. Second, it introduces the possibility of two years' imprisonment for employees who commit or contribute to the most serious health and safety offences, while lesser infringements can be punished by up to 12 months in prison. This can affect anyone in a business, from the Board to the shop floor, and marks a new departure that makes prison a potential sanction for offences that used to be punishable by a fine." Peter Littlefield believes that one result of these new more stringent penalties will be that organisations like the Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will carry out deeper investigations into serious breaches of health and safety rules. "People and businesses under investigation can expect greater intrusion into their affairs," he said. "This makes it even more important that all businesses and employees fully understand their responsibilities and abide by the rules. "Anyone looking for advice on how the Act will affect their business and employees is very welcome to contact us at Gepp & Sons on 01245 to organise a meeting with one of our business law specialists" he continued. "We'd be delighted to help you get to grips with this very important piece of legislation that every business simply has to address." - ends - Notes to Editors: • For additional information or comment please contact: Peter Littlefield of Gepp & Sons.

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