The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) welcomed the new Sentencing Council guidelines, which ensures that health and safety breaches are fairly and proportionately punished, and will help to deter potential future offences.
Previously guidance for judges and magistrates was limited for offences that can be extremely complex and serious.
The changes will penalise companies that ignore health and safety, or do not follow procedures in order to save money.
They will also bring penalties for health and safety offences into line with those for environmental and other corporate offences.
Dr Karen McDonnell, RoSPA’s occupational safety and health policy adviser, said: “These new guidelines will mean that, in some cases, offenders will receive larger penalties – particularly larger organisations that commit serious offences.
“Unfortunately, you occasionally hear of organisations deliberately breaking the law to cut corners with health and safety. It is our hope that the promise of harsher penalties will deter organisations from taking such risks with their employees’ lives in the future.”
The Sentencing Council says that increased penalties for serious offending have been introduced because, in the past, some offenders did not receive fines that properly reflected the crimes committed.