news release



no embargo - 17 February 2010  (Back to news releases)

FACK angry at soft sentencing guidelines for employers who kill and the failure to link fines to turnover

Families Against Corporate Killers feel the sentences proposed for organisations which negligently kill workers or others by Corporate Manslaughter/Homicide or breaches of Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAWA) (1), are too low, are inadequate to be effective deterrents and the failure to link fines to turnover is illogical and will allow large companies and transnational corporations to continue to get away with criminal behaviour.

FACK Spokesperson says:

“There is a misapprehension that killing someone at work is not a real crime,  that organisations that kill workers or members of the public through their negligent mis management of work activities, are somehow not ‘real criminals’, and so the penalties inflicted upon them need not be too severe.  Financial crime such as fraud or anti-competition acts can be punished by severe penalties such as imprisonment of individuals and hefty fines up to 10% of corporation’s turnover.  Yet we are told, applying that link between fines and turnover in the case of killing someone is unworkable! , Suggested fines of £500,000 for Corporate Manslaughter, or £100,000 for HASAWA offence causing death,  will be a miniscule fraction of 1% of the turnover of a large corporation.  We do not think such fines provide an effective deterrent to stop totally avoidable deaths happening in workplaces every day. 

“These guidelines tell employers and the public that workers’ lives are not that important, and they are a slap in the face for families like ours who have paid the real price of employers’ failure to comply with health and safety law.

FACK calls on the government to place positive legal duties on directors for the health and safety of their organisations, who would then face imprisonment if they fail in those duties. This has been endorsed by Rita Donaghy’s report (2) and the DWP Select Committee Report (3).”

For more information contact Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557


1. Sentencing Guidelines Council Definitive Guidelines news release [pdf]
2. Rita Donaghy ‘One death is too many’ report into construction deaths, commissioned by the DWP and published in July 2009 [pdf]
3. The role of the Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive in regulating workplace health and safety - Third Report of Session 2007–08 [pdf]