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Farmers & businesses urged to check their insurance ahead of introduction of stiffer penalties

20th June 2016
Gemma Rawlinson Area Development Manager for Scottish Borders and Northumberland

Farmers to face prison and unlimited fines for health and safety breaches

Farmers are being urged to ensure they are properly insured ahead of the introduction of tougher new penalties for businesses convicted of corporate manslaughter and other health and safety offences. Check you are properly insured at the drop-in surgery on 22 June at Wooler Mart.Under previous legislation, lower courts rarely imposed custodial sentences and could only fine individuals up to £20,000. Since February 1st in 2017, those found guilty could face unlimited fines or imprisonment.

Patrick Quigley Account Executive and Gemma Rawlinson, Scottish Borders and North Area Manager from H&H Insurance Brokers, which operates across Northern England and the Scottish Borders, said: “It’s particularly important that farmers and businesses operating in the rural community are aware of these changes and the steps they can take to protect themselves.”

“According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), over the last decade, one person a week has been killed in the agricultural sector. With many of these deaths due to breaches in health and safety legislation, the way such cases are dealt with has been reviewed and the Sentencing Council is introducing new penalties.

“In future, there could be far-reaching consequences for any farmers or farming businesses that are convicted, and it’s vital they are properly insured against that risk.”

As the agricultural year moves into the summer months, risks on the farm heighten. There have been a number of cases in recent years of members of the public crushed by cattle at grass, and we will soon be at the peak point in the year for agricultural machinery use which brings additional health and safety risks.

Under the new penalties, company directors, officers or employees of a business who are prosecuted as an individual could be jailed for up to two years. It is anticipated that business with turnovers of up to £2 million could face fines of up to £450,000, with the amount rising dependent upon the company’s turnover.

H&H Insurance Brokers will be running special drop-in sessions for farm businesses at marts across Northern England and the Scottish Borders, providing advice and guidance on whether they are adequately covered. Farmers can come along with their insurance documents and H&H professionals will check the level of protection they have in place.

Patrick and Gemma from H&H Insurance Brokers said: “These stiffer penalties could affect farming businesses and our aim in offering these one to one sessions is to help support farmers and ensure that they are adequately covered.

H&H Insurance Brokers offers the specialist liability policy Rural Protect, which covers both the business and individual. It can be tailored to individual requirements and farm circumstances and covers the cost of dealing with regulators, including HSE fees for intervention costs. There is also free access to a 24/7 crisis line for farmers staffed by qualified solicitors, providing unlimited legal advice on regulatory and legal issues as part of the policy.

To find out more or check your level of insurance, you can attend the H&H Insurance Brokers drop-in sessions at Wooler Mart commencing Wednesday 22nd June and monthly on a Wednesday thereafter.  For more information contact Patrick on 07793 528 609 or Gemma on 07568 109655