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News

The Anvil Group provides details of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act.

Anvil Group : 21 April, 2008  (Special Report)
With the advent of new UK legislation covering corporate manslaughter and homicide, the Anvil Group shares its insightful white paper on the subject exclusively with ProSecurityZone readers.
As International Travel is perpetually increasing in today's ever demanding global business environments, 'duty of care' and corporate responsibility are increasingly pertinent. Corporations need to ensure and demonstrate compliance with existing health and safety legislation in conjunction with the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act. By implementing safety management systems, such as The Anvil Group's Employee Travel Monitoring Solution (ETMS) and Travel Risk Intelligence System (TRIS) it will help you assess and alleviate risk under the boundaries of the new law.

The law comes into force on 6 April 2008 and an offence will now be committed if the way in which an organisation's activities are managed, or organised, by its senior managers cause a persons death and amount to a gross breach of relevant duty of care.

The offence is aimed at cases where management failings lie across an organisation and it is the organisation itself that will be prosecuted.

However, the Act does not change that individuals can already be prosecuted for gross negligence manslaughter/ culpable homicide and for health and safety offences. Prosecutions against individuals will continue to be taken where there is sufficient evidence.

Penalties will include an unlimited fine, a publicity order and a remedial order.

This applies to all companies and other corporate bodies, trade unions and employers' associations, government departments and police forces.

Organisations need to do the following:.

• Senior managers need to ensure they are complying with current health and safety laws and the act does not affect those requirements.
• Use the new offence as an opportunity to satisfy employers that the systems and processes for managed health and safety are adequate.

In practice, this means:.

• Employers have a legal duty to report certain incidents at work, including work-related deaths.
• The police will lead an investigation if a criminal offence is suspected. They will work in partnership with the HSE.
• Cases of corporate manslaughter will be prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales. (The Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland. Corporate homicide cases will be prosecuted by the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland.)
• Health and safety charges may be brought at the same time as a prosecution for the new offence, as well as in cases where it is not prosecuted.

Some frequently asked questions include:.

Are there any new duties or obligations under the Act?

There are no new duties or obligations under the Act, nor is the new offence part of health and safety law. It is, however, specifically linked to existing health and safety requirements. The introduction of the new offence is an opportunity for employers to think again how risks are managed.

What do companies and organisations need to do to comply?

Companies and organisations that take their obligations under health and safety law seriously are not likely to be in breach of the new provisions. Nonetheless, companies and organisations should keep their health and safety management systems under review, in particular, the way in which their activities are managed or organised by their senior management. The Anvil Groups Employee Travel Monitoring Solution (ETMS) has been designed to certify on interrogation that the company has shown a Duty of Care to the safety and well being of individuals travelling on company business.

Where does health and safety legislation come in?

Under the Act, health and safety legislation means 'any statutory provision dealing with health and safety matters' so it will include transport (road, rail, sea, air) as well as workplace safety as enforced by HSE and local authorities. The Anvil Groups ETMS has been designed to process and manage these types of reservations either domestically or across international boarders. The ETMS will also display hotel only reservations. This means that our system will process and manage itineraries that do not have travel associated with them. Our competition tends to only cater for itineraries that have a flight associated with them. However, incidents may still occur in hotels that affect the safety of employees such as bombings and fires, therefore organisations must be able to identify who is affected by that incident as and when the crisis occurs.

Juries will be required to consider breaches of health and safety legislation in determining liability of companies and other corporate bodies for corporate manslaughter/homicide. Juries may also consider whether a company or organisation has taken account of any appropriate health and safety guidance and the extent to which the evidence shows that there were attitudes, policies, systems or accepted practices within the organisation that were likely to have encouraged any such serious management failure or have produced tolerance of it.

Who will investigate and prosecute under the new offence?

The police will investigate suspected cases of corporate manslaughter/homicide. Prosecution decisions will be made by the Crown Prosecution Service (England and Wales), the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (Scotland) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (Northern Ireland). The ETMS solution records every activity and communication that takes place to mount a legal defence, saving time and money.

Will directors, board members or other individuals be prosecuted?

The offence is concerned with corporate liability and does not apply to directors or other individuals who have a senior role in the company or organisation. However, existing health and safety offences and gross negligence manslaughter will continue to apply to individuals. Prosecutions against individuals will continue to be taken where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.

Is there any advice or guidance for directors or board members on what they should be doing and what their responsibilities are under health and safety legislation?

In conjunction with the Institute of Directors, HSC has published guidance for directors on their responsibilities for health and safety - entitled 'Leading Health and Safety at Work, leadership actions for Directors and Board Members'. The guidance sets out good practice for directors, addressing them in language and style they will find authoritative and convincing, informing Boards and their members in the public, private and third sectors, as to how to provide leadership in health and safety so as to help their organisation meet its legal obligations as an employer under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and gain the business benefits arising from effective, sensible health and safety management.

Will the Act be retrospective?

No, the Act comes into force on 6 April 2008 and will only apply to deaths that occur from that date. Deaths that occur before 6 April 2008 will be covered by the current law on corporate manslaughter.

Can I be prosecuted for both corporate manslaughter and breaches of existing health and safety legislation?

Yes. It is open to the prosecuting authorities to prosecute for both and highly likely that they will.

Can individuals still be prosecuted under the existing common law of manslaughter?

Yes. Where there is evidence that a fatality is caused by gross negligence, individuals can be prosecuted for manslaughter. For example, in September 2003 a teacher was jailed for 12 months for manslaughter, following the death of a 10-year-old pupil who drowned on a school adventure trip while in his charge. Another example in January 2005, a managing director of a building firm was sentenced to 16 months in prison by Manchester Crown Court following the death of a construction worker who fell from a roof.

What can companies do to protect themselves?

Companies and their employees must do everything reasonably practicable to ensure the health, safety and welfare of everyone affected by their activities. In particular, appropriate safety management systems should be set up and followed, with adequate training, supervision, monitoring and auditing.

The Anvil Groups ETMS allows organisations to demonstrate that a duty of care has been shown to travelling employees. The system records all communications that have taken place therefore the information can then be used to support a legal defence if necessary. The solution also provides the structures and processes of Travel Risk Management. It enables Heads of Security or Heads of Department to monitor travel safety policies, itineraries and alerts. It then allows instant identification of any employee trips that pose a threat to either the traveller or the organisation. The Head of Security or Head of department can then take steps to mitigate those risks.

The Anvil Group assist corporations to comply and demonstrate duty of care obligations for travelling employees. We do this by providing a range of solutions both Physical and Technological that provide automation and structure to the travel Risk Management process.

Through solutions such as;- ETMS, TRIS, Secure Car & Driver, Close Protection, Crisis Management, Medical Repatriation and Security Evacuation.

For Further Information regarding any of our Risk Management Solutions please contact The Anvil Group.
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