The Health & Safety Executive has warned companies they could face fines and their directors could be jailed if they fail to protect employees from the consequences of the millennium bug.
At the publication of a report to help firms ensure their computers will not be affected by the 2000 problem, an HSE official stressed that firms were responsible.
Clive Norris, head of HSE’s Safety Policy Directorate, said: ‘Doing nothing is not an option. At the very least, you should identify whether you have a millennium bug problem, and test to ensure that you have tackled it effectively. If you don’t have a problem, end of story. But if you do, and you take no action, inspectors will consider appropriate enforcement action.’
A spokesman said this would almost certainly take the form of improvement notices, failure to comply with which can lead to fines of up to £20,000 and six months’ jail.
The focus of the HSE’s initiative will be on industries where computer failure could have catastrophic consequences nuclear, offshore oil and gas, chemicals, mining and railways.