Health and safety breaches could earn prison sentences

Health and safety regulations are set to get tougher with a bill increasing the penalties set to clear the Commons today.

The maximum fine in a magistrates court will rise to £20,000 “for most offences” and imprisonment introduced for a broader range of breaches.

The health and safety (offences) bill is the brainchild of former housing minister Keith Hill and has the government’s full support.

After its third reading today it will pass to the Lords for further debate.

“My bill will ensure appropriate punishment for those who are negligent or would seek to cut costs by infringing health and safety arrangements,” Mr Hill said.

“Judges have remarked in several cases over the years on a lack of imprisonment option and have said they would have jailed the offender had they been able to.”

Health and safety regulations are constant sore point for the tabloid press, but some features of the legislation introduce rudimentary safeguards for construction workers, among others.