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Corporate Manslaughter Bill Goes live!!!
The Corporate manslaughter bill, first drafted in March 2005, came into effect on 6 April 2008, the start of the new financial year. It has been ping-ponging its way between the House of Commons and the House of Lords because the two couldn’t agree on if, and how, the police and prison service would be accommodated, but that reached a resolution earlier in that year with an amendment tabled by the Government.
Although the bill won’t pin the blame for accidents on individuals, unlimited fines can be levied on companies “if the way in which any of its activities are managed or organised by its senior managers causes a person’s death and amounts to a gross breach of relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased”.
Prosecutors will need to prove mismanagement by senior managers was to blame for a fatality.
The British Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association gave the development a warm response. “The final approval of this legislation is to be welcomed since it will clarify the legal responsibilities for companies, the great majority of whom are already successfully managing their responsibility in this area,” said director general John Lewis. “It will also reinforce the duty of care that fleet managers will have to exercise particularly in the case of private cars being used for business purposes.”
“Under the Heath & Safety at Work Act there was the opportunity to prosecute individuals, this broadens the responsibility to senior managers as a whole.”
Find more info on Coporate Manslaughter
What is coporate manslaughter?
Corporate manslaughter is a crime in several jurisdictions. It enables a corporation to be punished and censured for culpable conduct that leads to a person's death. This extends beyond any compensation that might be awarded in civil litigation or any criminal prosecution of an individual.
As mentioned above The Corporate Manslaughter Act will be implemented on April 6, 2008 and will affect all companies regardless of size.
The new law will mean that, organisations can be prosecuted where a safety failure is the cause of work-related deaths. (Under the new act it no longer needs to be the sole cause of death) Such cases will not be limited to fatal accidents in the workplace, but will include cases of death out on the road.
Driving for work, is the most dangerous work-related activity performed by employees in the UK
Evidence shows that 95% of all road accidents are caused by human error and it is estimated that a third of accidents in the UK involve someone driving for work.
The Department for Transport states that there are more than 150 crashes every day involving vehicles on company business.
What is Coporate Manslaughter?
A Quick Summary..
What is the act?
It allows an organisation to be found guilty of corporate manslaughter if a senior management failure causes a breach in duty of care. Anyone driving on company business should be protected by the company's duty of care.
What makes a company guilty?
Police investigating a work-related road death would consider three elements: the vehicle, the driver and the journey. If a car isn't roadworthy, a driver isn't fit to drive, or if he/she was asked to undertake too long a trip, then a company can be held liable.
What are the penalties if a company is found guilty?
Firms found guilty of the new offence of corporate manslaughter should be fined as much as 10% of their annual turnover, according to the Sentencing Advisory Panel (SAP) - an independent body sponsored by the Ministry of Justice that advises the Sentencing Guidelines Council. Senior officials can still be prosecuted under existing manslaughter laws and can receive custodial sentences of around two-three years.
What does it mean?
Any organisation found guilty could be ordered to pay an unlimited fine.
Publicise nationally at their own cost, full details of their conviction including the size of any fine and remedial action taken.
Take remedial action within a specified period.
Employers will no longer be able to pass on responsibility and blame for a fatal crash to the driver.
What must be done?
This is what we recommend for fleet operators -
Organisations will need to be able to demonstrate working health and safety procedures in line with all existing Health and Safety legislation to protect themselves from any prosecution.
Work related road safety should be incorporated into existing health and safety procedures. Guidance can be found in the publication entitled ‘Driving at Work: managing work-related road safety’ produced jointly by the Health and Safety Executive and Department of Transport in 2003, which has become a minimum benchmark and focuses on risk assessment and management of an organisation’s drivers, vehicles and journeys.
The steps below are widely regarded as best practice:
• Identify who the senior managers are, ensuring they accurately reflect the seniority of the role. All senior managers should fully understand their obligations surrounding health and safety at work and their duty of care to improve and enforce it in the workplace. A safe driving committee, comprising operations, HR, OHS, fleet and risk is an effective way to engage senior managers, set up systems, allocate duties to key members of staff and ensure that everything "reasonably practicable" is being done to avoid and reduce risks on the road.
• Formal company risk assessments, audits or health checks, should be carried out on both the fleet and individual employees, to identify potential risks and hazards within the organization. This must include all company car drivers, cash takers, employees driving on company business, contractors and associated agencies. These risks need to be evaluated, and written policies and controls implemented to cover or eliminate them. All employees must be made to understand the health and safety policies, and be updated when changes are made.
• Maintain appropriate records to demonstrate that vehicles used or provided by the business are legal, fit for purpose, regularly serviced and maintained.
• Ensure that the driving licences and insurance arrangements of all employees who drive on business are checked at least annually to assess their eligibility to drive, and identify any potential risk areas.
• Put in place accident management procedures to assess all collisions/incidents (business and private) and appropriate corrective action to reduce future risks.
• Ensure systems are in place for continual reporting, monitoring, measurement, evaluation and improvement.
Quick Overview of what to do
Here at Driven Ltd we are dedicated to helping you and your employees create and develop a policy that will satisfy all of these needs and continue to work with you to maintain and manage the processes and safety of your fleet. With the safety of all at heart we are Driven to deliver good results.