Small businesses that breach health and safety regulations could face fines worth 142% higher than the yearly cost of compliance measures to prevent health and safety failings, according to research that highlights the alarming cost of non-compliance.
Analysis by health and safety consultancy Arinite found that the average fine for a health and safety breach levied in 2020 was £106,984, whereas it would only cost £44,214 per year for a small organisation to meet what is required by law.
Some £23.9m in fines were issued to organisations for health and safety failings in 2020, with 224 cases identified.
The services industry has seen the largest increase in the average fine, rising from £96,828 in 2016 to £140,768 in 2020. The Health and Safety Executive also handed out 80.6% more fines to service companies.
The construction and services industries were responsible for 52.6% and 36.8% of the prison sentences for health and safety breaches in 2020 respectively, Arnite’s analysis found.
The construction industry’s average fine climbed by 52.2%, from £74,231 to £112,953, and the average fine levied in the manufacturing sector increased from £112,111 to £129,949.
“Failing to implement health and safety regulations can be devastating for companies. Not only could you face hefty fines or even a prison sentence, but you could also be putting your staff members at risk of fatal injuries,” warned Arinite managing director Robert Winsloe.
“To fulfil your duty of care as an employer and avoid facing fiscal and litigation risks, you must create a health and safety policy and conduct risk assessments.
“It’s also vital to provide safety training for staff and inform them of any risks in the workplace and how you’re addressing the issues. “If your business has five or more employees, you’ll need to appoint a health and safety competent person too. You can nominate yourself, an existing employee, or a third-party company,” he added.