Businesses have a “window of opportunity” to get their health and safety systems and cultures right before the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, which came into force last year, really starts to bite, top lawyers have warned.
A panel of health and safety lawyers was brought together by the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health in March.
They warned that the new Act was already leading to changes in the way offences were being investigated, with the police being very thorough and causing immense disruption.
They warned businesses should expect investigations to be long-running, and that many managers could find themselves being quizzed, and even arrested, as part of the police inquiry.
Nathan Peacey, a partner at Bond Pearce, warned: “The police seem to be struggling with how they should be investigating this offence.
“They seem to be arresting everyone down to low-level management in the two cases I’m involved in.”
While it was likely to be a few years before the first prosecutions were brought under the Act, the lawyers advised firms to use this window of opportunity to do all they could to get their systems, procedures and cultures right in order to avoid being prosecuted.