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The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 was introduced to ensure that any company found to have contributed to a person's death; either through how it manages it's activities and operations, or if by committing a gross breach of its duty of care owed to the deceased, can now be made accountable for its actions. The act is a criminal piece of legislation and relates purely to the activities and operations of a company or organisation (can be a corporation, a department, a Police force or a partnership, union or association) as opposed to individuals. Where deemed appropriate by the Crown, cases of Gross Negligence Manslaughter against individuals deemed responsible can also run concurrently alongside a corporate case. This means that should the tragedy of a death in the workplace occur, a joint investigation between the Health and Safety Executive (Regulators of Health & Safety Legislation) and the Police will take place.
Firstly, it is important because morally and legally, all employees are owed a duty of care by their employer. Conversely, any organisation employing lone workers incurs a financial risk should the worst occur. Organisations convicted under the act risk the following:
To download the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 please click here:
So far the legislation has yielded several convictions, the first coming in February 2011. Upon being found guilty, Cotswold Geotechnical Limited, who are a relatively small company, were fined 385,000 to be made payable over a ten year period. The second conviction, this time in Northern Ireland, produced a fine of £187,500 against JMW Farms Limited. Most recently, Lion Steel Limited were the third company to be convicted under the legilsation and were subsequently fined £480,000 in July 2012 following the death of an employee in 2008.
The paralells between all three cases is that none of them are relating to large companies, thus suggesting the full force of the legislation is yet to be proven. The full impact of the act is only likely to be tested if a large multinational firm suffer a conviction. The former clearly impacts on the scale of the fine imposed, but it must also affect culpability. Directors of small business are often likely to be based on-site for the majority of the time, in a large multi-national corporate, assessing culpability due to the size and structure of such a business will undoubtedly be a more complicated issue.
Lone Worker Technology won't always prevent a death in the workplace - it may have had no impact on the tragic circumstances in all of the situations leading to convictions under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to date. However, an employer that is clearly contributing towards their duty of care can demonstrate that both before and after incidents of any severity. Looking after your lone workers is undoubtedly one part of this. Considering the cost of implementing a solution versus the cost of a fine, (be it under either Health and Safety legislation or Corporate Manslaughter legislation) suggests that protecting staff is definitely the best option to pursue.