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Unlimited fines or prison for UK farmers who don't care about safety

Staff writer |
Farmers are being urged to ensure they are properly insured ahead of the introduction of tougher new penalties for businesses convicted of corporate manslaughter and other health and safety offences.

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Under previous legislation, lower courts rarely imposed custodial sentences and could only fine individuals up to £20,000. Since February 1st in 2017, those found guilty could face unlimited fines or imprisonment.

Patrick Quigley Account Executive and Gemma Rawlinson, Scottish Borders and North Area Manager from H&H Insurance Brokers, which operates across Northern England and the Scottish Borders, said: “It’s particularly important that farmers and businesses operating in the rural community are aware of these changes and the steps they can take to protect themselves.”

“According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), over the last decade, one person a week has been killed in the agricultural sector. With many of these deaths due to breaches in health and safety legislation, the way such cases are dealt with has been reviewed and the Sentencing Council is introducing new penalties.

“In future, there could be far-reaching consequences for any farmers or farming businesses that are convicted, and it’s vital they are properly insured against that risk.”

As the agricultural year moves into the summer months, risks on the farm heighten. There have been a number of cases in recent years of members of the public crushed by cattle at grass, and we will soon be at the peak point in the year for agricultural machinery use which brings additional health and safety risks.

Under the new penalties, company directors, officers or employees of a business who are prosecuted as an individual could be jailed for up to two years. It is anticipated that business with turnovers of up to £2 million could face fines of up to £450,000, with the amount rising dependent upon the company’s turnover.

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