Manslaughter law to target managers

The new offence of corporate killing will make companies criminally liable

Home Secretary Jack Straw is looking at the possibility of banning managers
whose actions lead to deaths in the workplace from working in such roles again.

Mr Straw has already proposed changing the law on involuntary manslaughter.

He intends to create a new offence of corporate killing, designed to make
companies and public bodies criminally liable for deaths caused by poor safety

And the Home Secretary has said he is looking at extending the law still
further, to take action against individual managers.

Writing for the British Safety Council, Mr Straw said, "We are
concerned that corporate liability alone might not be a sufficient deterrent,
particularly within large or group companies.

"For this reason, we are considering whether it is appropriate for
action to be taken against individual company officers if they contribute to
the management failure that causes death."

This could mean that if found guilty that person would be disqualified from
acting in a management role, he said.

The issue of "corporate killing" is to be highlighted at a BSC
conference next month, which aims to put the spotlight firmly on company bosses
who disregard the safety of their employees.

The June 13 conference in London will be attended by Mr Straw – the General
Election permitting – and will focus on how to ensure company directors do not
flout health and safety regulations. A spokeswoman for the BSC said health and
safety – and occupational health – professionals could play a key part.

"If we want to make it harder for businesses to avoid being prosecuted
for corporate killing, we have to integrate health and safety into their
policy," she said.

The BSC conference follows an International Institute of Research Conference
in March that looked at the liability of senior management for incidents of
death in the workplace.

BSC director general Sir Neville Purvis told the conference, "I believe
we need a tougher law to target repeat offenders – those who, by neglect, are
putting people’s health and even lives at risk. Those with good safety records
will have nothing to fear."

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