The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is a landmark in law. For the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.
The Act, which will come into force on 6 April 2008, clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies including large organisations where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality.
Justice Minister Maria Eagle said;
"It is extremely important that companies and other organisations take health and safety seriously. Failure to do so can have devastating consequences - not only for the families of those affected but also for the businesses involved.
"This law will ensure that there is proper accountability - when very serious management failings lead to people being killed. This is not about over-regulation. Businesses should see this as an opportunity to make sure they have proper arrangements in place for managing health and safety. It is crucial for the people they employ and their customers that they are responsible and successful corporate citizens."
So in effect and put simply, it means that an organisation will be directly responsible, if any of its business activities result in a gross breach of a duty of care that causes the death of an employee.
Obviously, it is in the best interests of both the organisation and its employees to take every reasonable and practicable precaution to ensure the health, safety and welfare of everyone affected by their activities.
Organisations will need to ensure that they create a safe working environment and it would be wise to review existing health and safety policies to ensure they are up to date and robust prior to the act coming into force.
If you are an employer you really do need to familiarise yourself with the Act: It is essential that you are aware of the details of the Corporate Manslaughter Act and ensure that you understand its implications for your business.
All employees need to be aware of the new legislation, so training should be underway in order to make certain that your organisation is ready for the new act.
It's critical that you have appropriate insurance in place before April the 6th, check your policy - is it appropriate?
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