Business leaders support Government proposals for a corporate manslaughter Bill that would not include prosecution of individual directors for workplace casualties.
Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said: "I think that in a large company, particularly, itÍs very difficult to see how one individual can be clearly seen as ultimately responsible, because of the size and complexity of large organisations.
"Would that necessarily be the best way of ensuring that, if there is any form of negligence, it doesn't happen again?" he asked. "I'm not sure that is the best way forward."
The Institute of Directors' head of corporate governance, Patricia Peter, said the organisation is "pleased" that the Government has opted not to seek the prosecution of individuals under the proposed legislation.
She believes the threat of bad publicity for companies accused of corporate killing provides at least one incentive for businesses to take their responsibilities seriously.
"People will know, and other companies will know who those directors involved in making those bad decisions are," Peter said.
"I think what a lot of people fail to recognise is that companies, and certainly investors in companies, are increasingly aware of corporate reputation.
"Investors are looking more and more to companies to show that they are acting responsibly, that they do have proper risk management and risk assessment systems in place, and that these things are being discussed and considered at board level," she said.
"Obviously, successful prosecution will also be necessary if the law isn't to fall by the wayside. It's got to be framed in such a way that it's possible to secure a conviction. Otherwise it will be no more helpful than the existing law."
Mike Elliker, legal director of law firm Addleshaw Goddard, believes that, as proposed, the new legislation will actually make convictions easier than they are under the current set-up.
Under the new laws, it will not be necessary to pinpoint one specific act that has led to a death. Instead, several interconnected issues can be identified – such as failures to train properly, supervise staff and have a proper system of work in place – which, taken together, constitute a serious management failure.
"It doesn't have to be one act by one individual," s