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Van operators must ensure vehicles are fit for purpose

Operators: are your vans fit for purpose?

New legislation targets directors and operators

A new piece of legislation, the Health and Safety Offences Act 2008, has recently gained Royal Assent.

It will be implemented in January 2009.

The new legislation is aimed at business owners who ignore health and safety legislation.

The Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 will: increase penalties; provide courts with greater sentencing powers.

The Act raises the maximum penalty from £5,000 to £20,000. It can be imposed for breaching health and safety regulations; and applied in the lower courts.

The Act will have personal implications for small business owners and directors in their management of all work driving in vans and pick-ups.

The legislation could be used in cases where a road traffic accident or injury was caused by management failings from:

  • Tyres that are unsafe or have illegal levels of tread
  • A poorly maintained van
  • Use of a hand-held mobile phone
  • An employee being forced to work long hours
  • Van not fit for purpose

“It is generally accepted that the level of fines for some health and safety offences is too low. Justice will be fasterand more efficient,” commented Department for Work and Pensions Minister Lord McKenzie.

“Jail sentences for particularly blameworthy health and safety offences committed by individuals can now be imposed.”

What are the effects of the Act?

  • Maximum £20,000 fine for most health and safety offences
  • Imprisonment an option for more health and safety offences
  • Certain offences, currently triable only in the lower courts, can now be triable in either the lower or higher courts
  • Act covers Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Act comes into force January 2009