Calls for sanctions for firms flouting manslaughter laws

Companies that flout the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, which comes into force this month, should be named and shamed as well as hit by big fines, the Institution of Occupational Health and Safety has said.


IOSH president Ray Hurst also called for the courts to impose sanctions including the compulsory training of directors and senior staff in the management of occupational safety and health, the introduction of behavioural safety programmes, third-party audits and the suspension of all or part of a board or governing body of a convicted organisation.


The new law will mean all companies, of whatever size, risk prosecution and conviction where it can be proved a fatality has been caused by a gross breach of duty of care, and where the conduct of senior management was a substantial cause.


“Some fairly radical measures may be needed – for example, where there have been extreme cases of collective senior management failure, the courts may consider it is in the best interests of public and employee health and safety for all or part of the board to be suspended,” Hurst added.


His comments came as the Court of Appeal in March tightened health and safety law further by upholding the case of a worker who was injured when using equipment that was not provided or maintained by their employer.


Employment lawyers have suggested that the case of Smith vs Northamptonshire County Council could lead to thousands of employers being sued.


In the case, a council driver injured her ankle as she pushed a wheelchair-bound patient down a ramp. The ramp, which had not been installed by the council, crumbled, causing her to slip.


The court ruled the ramp was “work equipment” under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, 1988 and dismissed an appeal by the council.

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