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Surgeries to help farmers protect against prison sentences

20th September 2016


Surgeries to help farmers protect against prison sentences and unlimited fines

Farmers & businesses urged to check their insurance ahead of introduction of stiffer penalties for breaches in health and safety.
H&H Insurance Brokers are urging farmers 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. From February 1st in 2016 those found guilty of such charges could now find themselves facing unlimited fines or imprisonment.

To help raise awareness of these changes, it has been announced that H&H Insurance Brokers will be running special drop-in sessions for rural and farming businesses, with the second one being held at Wooler mart on Wednesday 5th October. This will be followed by other surgeries taking place at marts across Northern England and the Scottish Borders over the next few months.

Under previous legislation, lower courts rarely imposed custodial sentences and could only fine individuals up to £20,000, this is no longer the case as Patrick Quigley, Account Executive and Gemma Rawlinson, Scottish Borders and North Area Manager from H&H Insurance Brokers explain:

“From February, those found guilty could face unlimited fines or imprisonment, therefore it is particularly important that both farmers and businesses operating in the rural community are made fully aware of these changes, and understand the steps they can take to protect themselves against such charges.”

It is vitally important that they are aware of the risks and are adequately covered for any such occurrence. For example it is the time of year when most on-farm machinery is operating at full throttle, so the risk of injuries increase, which in itself brings additional health and safety risks. There have also been a number of cases reported where members of the public have been crushed by cattle; this is another potential issue, which needs to be addressed.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), over the last decade, one person a week has been killed in the agricultural sector and many of these deaths have occurred as a result of breaches in health and safety legislation. “The way such cases area dealt with has been reviewed, and the Sentencing Council is introducing new penalties,” says Patrick and Gemma.

“In the future, there could be very harsh consequences for any farmers or farming businesses that are found guilty and it is now even more important that they are properly insured against all risks.”

Under the new penalties, company directors, officers or even employees of a business can be personally prosecuted, and as such could be jailed for up to two years. It is now anticipated that business with turnovers of up to £2 million could face fines of up to £450,000, however the amount of the fine could rise dependent on the company’s turnover.

Patrick and Gemma go on to say: “The stiffer penalties imposed could now have a huge impact on farming businesses and our aim is to offer these surgeries, which will provide one to one sessions to help prepare and support farmers to ensure that they are adequately covered for all eventualities.”
H&H Insurance Brokers offer 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 about the forthcoming surgeries, or check your level of insurance, people are being encouraged to come along to, the H&H Insurance Brokers drop-in sessions, on 5th October, 2nd November and 7th December.

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