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Safety compliance is paramount ahead of stricter sentencing guidelines, warns ukactive

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ukactive has urged the physical activity sector to ensure it is fully safety compliant and following industry best practice ahead of new sentencing guidelines for safety offences due to come into effect next month.

From 1 February 2016, new guidelines – described as the ‘biggest shake up to health and safety offences since the 70s’ – will increase the level of fines that the court can impose in the event of an incident.

Around 84 per cent of on-site accidents are beyond a leisure operator’s control, according to a report last year drawn from industry accident benchmarking platform STITCH. Despite this, preventable accidents do happen and the penalties for failing to follow proper procedures can include jail sentences and fines of up to £10m for the most serious breaches of health and safety law.

The new guidelines will create a nine-stage process setting out a clear and formulaic approach to sentencing. The process requires the judge to determine, using criteria set out in tables, the culpability of the defendant from low to very high and then determine the harm risked by the breach from one of three categories. These two factors are then plotted on a grid to determine a starting point of the fine and the fine range.

To reduce the risk of incurring these increased fines, organisations are advised by the guidelines to comply with the law and follow company procedures. ukactive says that following its industry Code of Practice can potentially save organisations millions, as failing to comply with industry guidelines could result in a higher culpability.

Commenting on the new guidelines, Andy Read, safety manager at Places for People Leisure and representative of the ukactive Standards and Legislation committee said: “Although this does not change current legislation, it could have a significant impact on any business that is not complying with the standard. The ukactive Code of Practice is a great tool to help make sure that your organisation has got its policies and procedures in order.”

Executive Director Steve Ward added: “Every organisation across the sector is affected by the new sentencing guidelines. We all need to ensure we comply with the law, follow company procedures and meet industry best practice. ukactive can advise you on these standards and help you meet standard requirements through the Code of Practice.”

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ukactive has urged the physical activity sector to ensure it is fully safety compliant and following industry best practice ahead of new sentencing guidelines for safety offences due to come into effect next month.
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