Significant flaws still need to be addressed before proposals for a Corporate Manslaughter Bill can gain support from industry, according to EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.
The government’s present proposals do not support individual liability in a case of corporate manslaughter, a move supported by business but vehemently opposed by the trade unions.
Business argues that existing provisions outside the ‘corporate’ nature of the legislation, such as gross negligence manslaughter, already cover individual liability.
In its response to the latest Home Office consultation on the draft bill, EEF said the law should be changed to make it easier to hold organisations accountable where gross negligence results in death.
However, EEF argues that the proposals remain significantly flawed because:
The definition of a senior manager remains limited to those at strategic levels within an organisation. EEf said it needs to be reviewed so that all those who have the freedom to act in a decisive manner within an organisation are covered by the legislation. This would mean managers at local level could be held accountable.
Statutory criteria are proposed to direct a jury in deciding whether an organisation has grossly failed in its duty of care. EEF said the current criteria are unhelpful and open to wide interpretation.
The Bill proposes to give legal status to all HSE guidance as constituting acceptable performance in health and safety management. EEF said that such guidance is often too general to be meaningful. It proposed that approved codes of practice be used, as these are already afforded a recognised legal status.
Inclusion of provision for remedial orders – requiring practical steps to address the problem – is a duplication of a power that already exists.
EEF director of health, safety and environment, Gary Booton, said: “Industry supports the principle of this legislation as it will send a strong signal to the tiny minority of businesses which show a wanton disregard for life.
“However, the current proposals remain flawed and will neither aid prosecution of those responsible for offences nor support efforts to improve health & safety.”