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July 8, 2013

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Van owners unaware of corporate manslaughter

Nearly half of businesses that operate vans have not heard of the term ‘corporate manslaughter’, a survey has revealed.

The study from business insurer AXA questioned 300 businesses, of which 45 per cent said they were not aware of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

The research also revealed three main areas of concern in the way businesses manage their vans: poor administration in relation to the paperwork for drivers and vehicles; unchecked damage to van bodywork and windscreens; and a casual attitude to core maintenance required to keep vehicles safe.

In relation to poor admin, three in ten companies have not checked the insurance details for those driving their company vans, while 8 per cent of companies have failed to check whether those driving the company van hold a valid driver’s licence.

In terms of damage to vehicles, a quarter of businesses have medium-sized dents and 14 per cent have large and unassessed areas of damage that could potentially affect the safety of the van. Twenty-two per cent have unrepaired damage to exhausts, bumpers, or mirrors; and 55 per cent have chips in their windscreen — defects that can be easily fixed, but, left unattended, can lead to serious issues with driver visibility.

On the third issue of poor maintenance, 9 per cent of those questioned serviced their vehicles less than once a year, and 6 per cent never do so. The Highway Code recommends that core maintenance, such as checking tyre pressure and fluid levels, is done on a weekly basis.

“Corporate manslaughter is a very serious charge that carries an unlimited fine,” commented Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance. “While the number of businesses that are simply unaware of its existence is alarming, our research shows that negligence is apparent among both those that are aware and those that are unaware. We want to warn businesses that keeping on top of relevant HSE legislation is vital to avoid leaving themselves exposed.”

He continued: “Sadly, as an insurer, all too often we see the results of people failing to comply with rules and regulations designed to keep road-users safe. And, while we know that often there is no intent to break the rules, we also know that complacency can carry a very heavy price-tag.”

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