The number of directors prosecuted alongside their companies almost doubled last year compared to the recent annual average, according to Health & Safety Executive (HSE) figures. Statistics released to law firm Clyde & Co show that 46 senior managers were prosecuted under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act in 2015-16, compared to an annual average of 24 over the past five years.
Of the 46 prosecutions completed between April 2015 and March 2016, 34 individuals were either found or pleaded guilty; one was found not guilty; and in 11 instances the charges were withdrawn or no evidence was offered. The 2015-16 figures represent a six year high. Only 15 directors were prosecuted in 2014-15, but in 2010-11 the figure stood at 31.
An HSE spokesperson denied that there had been a recent shift to focus in directors, saying; “The HSE’s policy is to prosecute directors when we have evidence that the have breached the law and when it is in the public interest, such as when the director or manager was personally responsible for matters relating to the offence. Protection of directors is intended to hold them to account for their failings”.
The rise in prosecutions mounted against senior managers comes as those against employees falls. Between 2010-2011 and 2014-15 , the average number of cases initiated was 13 a year. In 2015-16, there was just one.
Source: Health & Safety at Work Magazine – December 2016
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