Corporate manslaughter: taking steps in the right direction
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force throughout Great Britain on the 6th of April, 2007.
Organisations run the risk of unlimited fines and a depleted reputation where serious failures in the management of health and safety results in a fatality.
An organisation will be guilty of corporate manslaughter where a gross failure in the management or organisation of its activities results in a person’s death. The new legislation places responsibility for managing health and safety firmly at the door of senior management and a substantial part of the failure within the organisation must have been at a senior level.
Whilst high profile cases such as the Piper Alpha disaster have previously evaded prosecution for corporate manslaughter, the 2007 Act would enable prosecution for the offence in similar cases. Prosecution under the Act can have severe consequences to an organisation. An organisation convicted under the new legislation can receive an unlimited fine, meaning that the £15m fine handed to Transco in 2005 for serious health and safety breaches resulting in a fatal explosion at Larkhill in 1999 could have been far greater under the new corporate manslaughter legislation.
A prosecuted organisation may be required to publicise details of their offence and the sanctions imposed. This is a sanction that could significantly damage the image and reputation of the organisation and subsequently have a negative financial impact in terms of share value, profit and market share.
The first step towards complying with the law is to ensure that an effective health and safety management system is implemented and maintained with commitment from senior management. Managing health and safety from the top implements an effective framework for achieving legal compliance It is essential that organisations proactively identify and rectify any shortcomings; remain up to date with developments in health and safety legislation, good practice and guidance; and seek competent advice where necessary.
Turner & Townsend's approach
Turner & Townsend provides a complete health and safety management service to assist in achieving legal compliance. Turner & Townsend’s experienced consultants carry out a systematic and structured status review of current management arrangements, identifying strengths and gaps and providing a cost effective management plan. Turner & Townsend provide practical consultancy to implement the management plan, develop the health and safety management system and carry out subsequent audits on a periodic basis. http://www.turnerandtownsend.com