The government’s long-awaited Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act came into force last month, amid continued warnings that company owners and directors still do not fully understand their regulatory responsibilities.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) warned that, while individuals will not be liable under the new law, the behaviour of those in senior positions will be scrutinised more closely.
Roger Bibbings, RoSPA’s occupational safety adviser, said: “While directors themselves will not be prosecuted for the new offence, it is highly likely that there will be parallel action against both companies and their directors and senior managers under health and safety legislation.”
Law firm Nabarro said directors were leaving themselves at risk of heavy fines or even imprisonment because of a limited understanding of their compliance obligations.
The arrival of the new Act meant that the penalties for breaching regulations were growing, with the Health and Safety Executive already witnessing a doubling in the amounts of fines to individuals involved in cases concerning workplace fatalities between 2000 and 2005, it added.