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Corporate Homicide, Corporate Manslaughter

by | Business

Corporate Homicide sounds so much more exciting than Corporate Manslaughter. Maybe I should be of Scottish descent, because that is what they are calling this new legislation north of the border. In the rest of the UK it is the Corporate Manslaughter Act. Whichever your preference, the Act came into effect on the 6th April 2008 and you can expect it to be around for a very long time.

So what can we expect? Health and Safety will of course suddenly rise to the top of the Board agenda. Well maybe or maybe not; after all sales are down, people are leaving the company, the phones never stop, and so Health and Safety will have to wait. Sorry nothing new there. Does this sound harsh well of course it does. For those companies that take Health and Safety seriously I do apologise but I also know that for many other companies it remains low on the priority list. Enough of the tirade, let’s have a look at what it is all about and how you can make the most of a new opportunity through this legislation.

What is it all about?

What does the Act do?

The Act sets out a new offence for convicting an organisation where a gross failure in the way activities were managed or organised results in a person?s death.

Who does the Act apply to?

The Act applies to a wide range of organisations across the public and private sectors

What is the Limit on fines and who is fined?

Unlimited fines will apply to the organisation if found guilty.

Can a senior manager or director be prosecuted for the offence?

No only the organisation, however, under existing legislation individuals can be prosecuted.

Some tips for dealing with the Act

  • Invest some time to fully understand the Act – we have provided you with a little head start but reading up on this will be worth the effort. There is lots of good information freely available but we recommend the advice from the Institute of Directors.
  • Lead from the Top – Board members need to show leadership in the area of Health and Safety which is integral to an organisations success.
  • Understand the implications – Damaging fines, time away from the business at Court hearings, competitors stealing your market share, loss of reputation, just a few issues to consider.
  • Create a safe working environment – Are your existing policies up to date and robust enough. If not just make the changes. Maybe now is a good time to review what you have in place already.
  • Use it as an opportunity – Develop your own Health and Safety leadership style and embed this in the culture of your organisation.
  • Don’t hide – This is not the time to develop the ostrich approach. This issue is here to stay. It is not a fad.
  • Devote time in your Board meetings to continually review the effectiveness of your Health and Safety policies against the evolution of your activities. Brain storm in your meetings those key issues that are really relevant in the way you run your business. You may need to re-think some of your current practices.
  • Reward staff and Directors – Incentives for new ideas will certainly raise the awareness of the issue.

Remember this is an opportunity for improvement in the running of your business. For those who already operate to exacting standards this will not cause too much concern. Do we really need a piece of Legislation to help run our businesses? Clearly for some the need is there.

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