Green light for safety prosecutions

The proposed corporate killing laws announced in the Queen’s Speech will pave the way for more safety-related prosecutions, employers have been warned.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the draft Bill on corporate manslaughter would make it easier to prosecute companies that breached safety rules, and that around 80% of all workplace deaths could be blamed on management failure.

The current draft of the Bill would lead to employers being prosecuted when senior management fails to take reasonable care of workers’ safety. No individual has to be found solely responsible and the rules will apply when overall management failings lead to a worker’s death.

“No-one is talking about prosecutions for the sake of it, however we do need the threat of prosecutions if corporate responsibility on health and safety is to be improved,” said Barber.

“It is important that the relatives of those killed as a result of corporate failings see justice done. The proposed legislation will make it possible to prosecute an organisation if there is a gross breach of their duty of care and a senior manager ought to have known about it,” he said.

However, Barber called for even more stringent rules to be introduced so that individual directors could be held accountable for workplace accidents.

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