Legal update: Corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter
In the latest of its Safety Bytes videos, Irwin & Colton meets Kizzy Augustin, Partner at Russell-Cooke Solicitors, who leads the Health & Safety Practice at the firm.
Kizzy discusses the legislation surrounding Corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter, why we are seeing penalties increasing and she talks through some recent example cases. Kizzy also suggests some preventative measures organisations can take and provides good advice on what steps a company can take following a serious incident.
“Corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter are essentially, the same thing. They’re dealing with issues to do with a fatality. And the reason they are used more often now is because we have new legislation. And we also have new sentencing guidelines in relation to both,” she begins.
“Corporate manslaughter is increasingly used for the more serious end of incidents to do with the workplace. And I think, it’s really to make organisations more accountable.”
Kizzy goes on to discuss why we are seeing penalties increasing. She says: “The sentencing guidelines have been increased for both corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter. Because it was felt that the terms of imprisonment and the fines that were being imposed were not consistent with other regulatory regimes. But also, didn’t reflect the seriousness of the offenses being committed.
“What we’ve seen is due to the introduction of new legislation, the maximum fines now being imposed for corporate manslaughter is £20 million. And for gross negligence manslaughter, the suggestion is starting point of eight years imprisonment for those serious failings on the individuals part.”
She references a recent case involving Martinisation Limited, a central London company which was for moving sofas in a block of flats. Due to the way in which the company had planned their activities, two workers died as a result of a fall from a balcony while moving a sofa.
Kizzy also talks about how organisations can mitigate penalties. “In a nutshell,” she says that companies should have robust safety management systems in place. “Ensure that you’re reviewing your policies and practices frequently. Make sure that you’ve looked at what was known as the Institute of Directors, but also now Health and Safety Executive handout, which is the leading health and safety at work checklist.”
Kizzy concludes by providing some advice on what to do in the aftermath of an accident, saying: “One of the things is actually to limit the amount of information that goes out. Have a core team that manages the incident itself. And making sure internally, it’s reported to the right people.”
Irwin & Colton is a specialist Health and Safety recruitment company, based in the South East of England and recruit across the UK. They recruit all roles in the health and safety industry from Health and Safety Advisor, through to Health and Safety Director positions.
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