IOSH calls for sentences that improve standards and deter offenders

23 February 2015

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has called for sentences that help improve health and safety standards, remedy defects and deter future offending.

high court

In its response to a consultation by the Sentencing Council on guidelines on corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences, IOSH stressed the need for sentences to reflect both culpability and societal disapproval.

Highlighting the need to prevent exploitation of vulnerable people and modern slavery, the Chartered body also suggested that the use of ‘victim impact statements’ could be considered, if those affected wished to provide them.

Arguing that ignoring competent health and safety advice should be considered an aggravating factor, IOSH proposed that sentencing options are supplemented with compulsory health and safety training – a similar idea to the ‘Speed Aware’ programme aimed at preventing drivers from speeding.

The Institution also emphasised the importance of appropriate use of director disqualification for convicted individuals.

IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said: “It’s absolutely vital that those sentencing for serious health and safety failures fully appreciate the devastation and lasting harm these offences can bring.

“Well-designed guidelines can help ensure that sentencing is consistent and effective. The goal here is to ensure safe and healthy work for all.”

Sentencing guidelines help judges and magistrates decide the appropriate sentence for a criminal offence.

Criminal offences in England and Wales are very broadly defined and can have different levels of seriousness. Guidelines help to ensure that courts across England and Wales are consistent in their approach to sentencing.

To view IOSH’s response to the recent Sentencing Council consultation, visit