From: Hazards Campaign Charter
Establish Corporate Responsibility in Criminal Law for Manslaughter
and Bodily Harm
Whilst directors and chief executives are liable to prosecution
and imprisonment for crimes and misdemeanours involving money, it
is claimed to be extremely difficult to mount a successful prosecution
against the corporate officers even when breaches of health and
safety law have been aggravated by gross negligence on the part
of the company or organisation responsible.
The Law Commission has made a number of recommendations in this
area, including the new crime of corporate killing, but they do
not go far enough. The Hazards Campaign wants the government to
establish a specialised investigation and prosecution unit, staffed
by well trained personnel to investigate workplace deaths, serious
injuries and industrial diseases. This specialised unit should be
clearly separated from the advisory function of the HSE, established
in a separate directorate with a regional structure.
Company Law should be extended to include, as the responsibility
of named directors, the health and safety performance of the company
or corporate body. This would enable the identification of the senior
people responsible rather than the present tendency to prosecute
employees and managers way down the line of real responsibility.
It would allow custodial sentences to be imposed for offences, as
well as fines on organisations and the suspension or disqualification
Sentences allowed under the Health and Safety at Work Act and subsequent
regulations should include more custodial sentences for negligent
employers. Custodial sentences are essential since despite recent
pronouncements by the Law Lords that fines for health and safety
offences should be substantially higher, experience shows that fines
are insufficient to deter employers from breaking the law often
on a serial basis. Existing penalties are failing to reduce the
deaths, serious injury and disease caused by work.
There is also a need for more openness and accountability about
the whole process following a workplace death, major injury or illness.
Reports of the investigations of all major injuries and deaths at
work should to be given to the worker or their family. The Hazards
Campaign also demands that the obligation on the Crown Prosecution
Service to meet the representatives of bereaved families to explain
why they are not prosecuting be honoured in every case.
Make Publication of Health and Safety Performance in Annual Reports
Make Declaration of Insurers Compulsory
Companies should have to publish their record on health and safety,
just as they do on profits and performance. Companies should also
have to publish the name of their insurers, to prevent them from
evading the responsibility to hold Employee Liability Insurance
and to make it easier for sufferers of occupational illness to secure
compensation from the insurers. The Hazards Campaign calls for company
law to be amended to require this.