New Legislation > Corporate Manslaughter Act 2008
After over 10 years of campaigning by unions and other organisations, the principal that a company should be held responsible should their actions lead to the death of an employee is at long last becoming a reality.
In the past, although it’s been possible to prosecute an individual, it’s been virtually impossible to prosecute a large company for management failures resulting in deaths whilst at work.
From April 2008, new ‘landmark’ legislation makes it possible for organisations themselves to be prosecuted and found guilty on the basis of gross corporate failures in health and safety policy.
The new act will build on health and safety legislation that already exists, but this time, is about corporate liability rather than increasing the liability of an individual director or manager, who can anyway already be held to account through health and safety laws and the common law of manslaughter.
The new legislation is going to make it easier for prosecutors to make a case stack up in court, by reforming the law so that a key obstacle to successful prosecutions has been removed – (the need to hold an individual to account)
The Act will therefore help to protect employees, consumers and other individuals from corporate negligence.
Under the terms of the Act, companies whose gross negligence leads to the death of individuals are going to face prosecution for manslaughter. Companies, organisations and, for the first time, Government bodies will face an unlimited fine if they are found to have caused death due to their gross corporate health and safety failures.
Whilst the new legislation does not impose new regulations on businesses, it builds on existing health and safety legislation and it means that any company can be held responsible for manslaughter where it can be proven that a gross failure in the management of health & safety can be demonstrated to have taken place resulting in the death.
Whilst this can affect any area of you business, as fleet operators, we would draw your attention to matters that apply whilst an employee is driving a vehicle as part of his duty or employment.
There is more information and some good advice available on this website and we suggest you read the following article “Duty of Care – Employees Driving on Business – How to Protect Your Company “