Directors could shoulder blame for accidents

Employer groups expressed concern last week about company directors being held individually responsible for fatal accidents caused by their organisations.

This is being considered by the Government as a key part of the new corporate killing law, which will aim to make it easier to prosecute companies for disasters such as the Herald of Free Enterprise and the Paddington train crash (Personnel Today, 30 May).

Employers had until last week to respond to the draft law. But despite giving the proposals a broad welcome, they are uneasy about individuals being given overall responsibility for health and safety and possibly facing criminal proceedings if there is an accident.

The Engineering Employers’ Federation fears individuals will be made scapegoats. It is also worried that other employees will become less safety-conscious.

A CBI spokesman said, “Just because a corporation has been convicted of corporate killing does not mean an individual director should also be held responsible.”

The Institute of Directors said disqualifying or prosecuting directors could lead to cover-ups leading to health and safety getting worse rather than better.

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