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Health and safety plan ties fines to funding


A HOUSE of Commons select committee of MPs has called for all health and safety fines to be hypothecated back to fund the Health & Safety Executive.

The recommendation was one of 21 contained in a Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions select committee report on the work of the HSE published this week.

The report also called for the HSE to increase the number of investigations it carried out and for the Government to introduce the crime of corporate killing.

But its recommendation that fines be ring-fenced sparked the biggest reaction from health and safety experts. Many felt that the move would undermine the role of the Executive.

One senior figure told NCE: 'It would have a strange result. Four out of five prosecutions are against limited liability companies. These can go into liquidation and the fine won't be recovered. Similarly fines against foreign companies cannot be enforced. The HSE would end up having to chose whether to prosecute on the basis of getting its money back rather than the seriousness of the crime.'

The committee also said it was disappointed by the low levels of investigation and prosecution and said it supported the HSE's planned target to see a 3% increase in the investigation of incidents in the next three years. The committee said the Government must make funds available for this target to be met.

Other recommendations included:

more legal support for investigators

legislation to increase fines for health and safety offences

legislation for the crime of corporate killing be brought forward

improved guidance on when injuries should be investigated.

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