Research released today by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health highlights that business understanding of the possible implications of a prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act is extremely low.
The CIEH is one of the UK’s leading awarding bodies for accredited health and safety training qualifications.
The survey of 500 business decision makers reveals that 57% of businesses are unaware that they could be subject to a publicity order if found guilty of a fatal accident at work. The possibility of such an order is one of the new aspects of the Act.
Sectors that were most aware of the changes were travel and transport (53%), retail, catering and leisure (47%) Small and medium enterprises 42% but those least knowledgeable were manufacturing, engineering, utilities and healthcare (35%).
This penalty is so significant that it should ensure that Health and Safety is at the heart of business decision making particularly when strategic decisions about investment in training or providing new equipment is being made versus promotional spend.
When asked about the implications of breaching the Act – a publicity order or a fine of 10% of turnover, 59% of businesses regarded the former as the greater threat.
This is echoed within most individual industries, except for manufacturing, engineering and utilities.
In launching the findings of the research CIEH Chief Executive, Graham Jukes said:
“This poll research highlights the lack of awareness in most businesses of the effect that an accident at work may have on a firm’s ability to trade in the future. The HSE have just published their new strategy and business awareness of their responsibilities towards ensuring effective health and safety provision is at its heart.
“Business leaders must act proportionately but if they fail to properly resource health and safety and something goes wrong then it will not just be the victim that suffers but the business as a whole through the link to the corporate manslaughter and homicide Act.”
“The Act, the new strategy and indeed our research have a clear message – directors and individuals with managerial responsibility need to ensure that health and safety risks are properly managed and resourced in the organisations that they run, and that adequate health and safety procedures are maintained.
“It is essential that health and safety measures are reviewed to ensure they are proportionate and continue to provide safe working environments.”