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The Health and Safety Offences Act 2008
16 January 2009

On Friday, 16 January 2009, the Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 came into force, increasing the penalties that can be levied on employers and providing courts with greater sentencing powers for those who break health and safety law.


The Act gives lower courts the power to impose higher fines for some health and safety offences. 
The effect of the Act is to:
      • raise the maximum fine which may be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most health and safety offences; 
      • make imprisonment an option for more health and safety offences in both the lower and higher courts; 
      • make certain offences, which are currently triable only in the lower courts, triable in either the lower or higher courts.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that the Act should place no new duties on employers or businesses and that it is not changing its approach to how it enforces health and safety law.
The new penalties in the Act are not retrospective and will not apply to offences committed before it came into force on 16 January 2009.  
The full text of the Act can be found here.


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