The government published its long-awaited plans for a corporate manslaughter Bill. But the draft Bill was lost with the calling of the general election.
However, if Labour is returned to power, the Bill is likely to become a reality.
Under the proposals, which were a Labour manifesto commitment in the 2001 election, a new criminal offence of corporate manslaughter will be created.
This will apply when someone has been killed because the senior management of a corporation has “grossly failed to take reasonable care for the safety of employees or others”.
The new offence should mean courts can look at a wider range of management conduct. At the moment, it has to be proved that a single person was responsible.
Home secretary Charles Clarke stressed that the focus was on the working practices of the organisation, as set by senior managers.
“The draft Bill aims to ensure that the law is effective in bringing organisations to account when they have shown a clear disregard for the law with fatal consequences for members of their workforce or others,” he said.
Health and Safety Commission chairman, Bill Callaghan, said the new law should be reserved for the most serious cases, “to properly reflect society’s condemnation for workplace deaths caused by extreme disregard for health and safety”.