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Tougher health and safety penalties on the way

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Businesses that break health and safety rules will face tougher penalties in future, following the recent granting of Royal Assent to the Health and Safety Offences Act 2008, which comes into force next January. According to local solicitor Peter Littlefield of Gepp & Sons, "Some of the changes are very significant. For example, the new act raises the maximum penalty that a lower court, such as a County Court, can impose from £5,000 to £20,000. In addition, it extends the number of offences for which an individual can be imprisoned, so it's very important that anyone with health and safety responsibilities fully understands the changes. Importantly, though, there are no changes to employers' existing legal duties – the only changes are to the penalties." There is no need for any responsible business to be overly concerned. In welcoming the new legislation, Health and Safety Executive Chairman Judith Hackett said: "Good employers and good managers have nothing to fear. In fact, they have much to gain. Our enforcement policy targets those who cut corners, gain commercial advantage over competitors by failing to comply with health and safety law and who put workers and the public at risk." Peter Littlefield continues, "This is a good time for businesses to review the demands of health and safety legislation, and to ensure that they are complying with all its demands. Anyone who wants an impartial, external view of their compliance procedures is welcome to contact one of our specialist lawyers on 01245 228108 to arrange a review." - ends - Notes to Editors: • For additional information or comment please contact: Peter Littlefield of Gepp & Sons.

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