New Corporate Manslaughter Act Places Onus on Business
From 6th April this year the controversial Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 comes into force.
Businesses of any size, including UK small business, will be subject to the new laws.
Corporate Manslaughter, or Corporate Homicide as it will be known in Scotland, is an offence where a work fatality is caused by a gross breach in the duty of care where the conduct of a company and its senior management has caused the breach.
No individual liability will stem from investigations under the new laws but the risk of prosecution & conviction and the fines, ranging from 2.5% to 10% of a company’s gross annual turnover, are expected to encourage better corporate responsibility.
Although the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act is aimed squarely at supporting and improving health & safety at work, there could be instances where the law applies in other situations requiring corporate responsibility.
Road Traffic Accidents could come under the scrutiny of the act where, according to Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics, of the 3000 people killed on Britain’s roads each year, as many as a thousand are driving during work. This puts the onus on companies to stick to their Working Time Regulations where drivers are subject to rules under the Road Transport Directive (see Drivers Working Hours)
The advice for small business owners is to ensure that Health & Safety guidelines are followed and well-documented. In the unfortunate event that an accident occurs, the scrutiny that business will now be under means that compliance is paramount.