The government has introduced a Corporate Manslaughter Bill to Parliament that would make companies liable for any deaths due to a general breach of the duty of care by the firm.
The Bill aims to make it easier to prosecute companies and public sector organisations where gross negligence leads to death. It will replace the need to find a ‘directing mind’ – a key difficulty in past prosecutions – with the focus shifted to the overall management of activities.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “This Bill has been a long time coming. We will study the detail, but hope it will make it easier to bring prosecutions against companies whose negligence has contributed to the deaths of employees or members of the public.
“We also urge the government to look at the issue of placing specific legal health and safety duties on directors of companies either through this Bill or separately.”
Last year, 581 people were killed at work. The Health and Safety Executive found 70% of these deaths were due to managers cutting corners.