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Health and Safety: 5 Important Trends in 2019

24 January 2019

As with previous years, 2019 is sure to bring with it some important trends in health and safety. Over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at some of the emerging or anticipated trends for the upcoming year. Our aim is to help you to understand and plan for what this will mean for you and your business, allowing you to stay one step ahead of the game.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming articles on the following trends:

1. Health and safety fines will continue to be high

Health and safety fines will continue to be high following the Health and Safety Definitive Sentencing Guidelines coming into effect in February 2016. Whilst recent trends may indicate that the level of fines will likely plateau at around the current levels seen, fines remain at an all time high, as do custodial sentences for individuals, and you and your business need to be prepared and understand what to expect. We will explore some of the key themes arising from the fines handed down over the past 12 months and look forward to what we might expect from the year ahead.

2. There will be more enforcement action taken and regulators are once again more active

2018 saw many regulators become increasingly active and this trend looks set to continue, in relation to the investigation and prosecution of both companies and individuals. The Care Quality Commission has already issued a warning of tougher enforcement action and the Health and Safety Executive remains active with a heightened focus on a number of specific areas, including work related stress. This will no doubt continue into 2019 and we will explore how you and your business can prepare for this increased scrutiny.

3. Legal privilege will continue to be a 'hot topic' and it has never been more important, or more challenging

Following the recent Court of Appeal Judgment in SFO v ENRC and the revelation that the Serious Fraud Office will not be appealing further to the Supreme Court, there remain some key outstanding issues and areas of uncertainty going into 2019. We will consider the impact of the Judgment, what the future holds for legal privilege and its practical application.

4. There has never been a better time to invest in health and safety compliance

The old saying goes that prevention is better than the cure and, as alluded to above, in times where regulators are increasingly active and fines are at an all time high there really has never been a better time to invest in health and safety compliance, in order to help protect you and your business. We consider how to put your company in the best possible position from a compliance perspective should a regulator come knocking.

5. Reputation management can be of utmost importance in a crisis

Reputation management can be just as important as legal advice in a crisis and its aftermath. Poor reputation and crisis management can have a significant detrimental effect on a company; whilst a fine can be paid off, the damage to a company's reputation can remain for many years thereafter. We explore how you can effectively manage a crisis in order to protect your business' reputation. High profile incidents and prosecutions in recent years have highlighted the crucial importance of containing an incident early and protecting a company's reputation.

Health and safety is an integral part of any business and keeping an eye on emerging trends in this area can only help businesses to plan and prepare. If you have any questions or would like to get in touch then please contact Simon Belfield.