Health and safety experts are warning that failure to adhere to regulations has bigger repercussions now than ever before.

Southalls Consultancy has been advising builders’ merchants for over a decade, and currently works with more than 110.

CEO Paul Southall explained that health and safety breaches have bigger consequences since a change in the law in 2016 to base fines on a company’s financial turnover. This means that the more money a business makes, the higher the fine will be if any accidents should occur.

Southall said that, while this law was brought into effect two years ago, we are only now seeing its full effects. He said there have been more fines of over £1 million in the last year than ever before, and there has been an increase in individuals, such as company directors, being investigated and prosecuted.

Fines are also now based on the potential outcome of an incident rather than the actual outcome. For example, Timber supplier Palmer Timber was fined £730,000 in June for a forklift accident that injured two employees and could have been fatal. It also had to pay £13,845 in costs.

Southall said this has caused a “culture shift” that has seen merchants taking health and safety even more seriously.

“Most builders’ merchants want to do the right thing – to fulfil their duty of care to their staff and keep them safe.

“However, this is also compounded by the severe financial and legal implications for businesses should they fail to adhere to regulations.”