New definitive sentencing guideline for use in courts in England and Wales on health and safety offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety and hygiene offences came into effect on 1 February 2016.
Under the new guidelines the offence of breach of duty of employer towards employees and non-employees and breach of duty of self-employed to others is triable either way. If found guilty, the maximum sentence is an unlimited fine with the range being between £50.00 to £10 million.
When sentencing, the court is required to focus on the organisation’s annual turnover or equivalent to reach a starting point for a fine. The court should then consider further adjustment within the category range for aggravating and mitigating features. The court may also be required to refer to other financial factors to ensure that the proposed fine is proportionate.
The charge is that, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, “it failed to conduct its undertaking, namely the operation of its Alton Towers resort, in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment who may have been affected thereby, were not exposed to risks to their health or safety, namely the risks associated with the operation of the Smiler rollercoaster”.