Sense and Sensibility in Health and Safety Management - Part 3

Peninsula Team

March 03 2013

CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER CASES INCREASE BY 40%

Solicitors Pinsent Masons have recently published new information about the number of new corporate manslaughter cases started by the Crown Prosecution Service during 2012. At 63 this represents an increase of 40% from 2011.

Since the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, companies can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter where management failures which constitute a gross breach of a duty of care, have resulted in death.

In total, 141 cases have been opened since 2009, with 56 prosecutions currently in process. Despite the rise in numbers there have, however, only been three convictions since 2008.

Commenting on the figures, for Pinsent Masons, Simon Joyston-Bechal, said: "High-risk industries and companies cannot be reassured by the current lack of convictions for corporate manslaughter. The three convictions so far are just the tip of an iceberg."

"Corporate manslaughter cases are very complex and can take a long time to come to trial. We can now see from these figures that there are a rapidly growing number of cases in the pipeline."

To avoid the risk of a prosecution for corporate manslaughter or other health and safety offences it is vital that businesses have robust health and safety procedures in place; procedures that can be shown to have been followed in practice. Businesses that cut health and safety expenditure in the face of the recession could leave themselves open to prosecution in the event of an accident.

Health and safety management systems that would help close the door on corporate manslaughter do not have to elaborate or complicated. They need to be sensible and appropriate to the forseeable hazards and risks present in the business and most important of all there must be evidence that they are put into practice.

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