Businesses in Britain could face considerable penalties if senior managers are found guilty of health and safety offences causing death, thanks to a new law.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act was introduced after several prosecutions against large companies and individuals for manslaughter in high profile workplace accidents failed.
Before the new law a single individual, identifiable as the directing mind of the company, had to be personally guilty of gross negligence or manslaughter before the organization could be convicted.
The new law makes it easier to convict organizations whose senior managers have breached their duty of care, causing death, because it holds oganizations accountable for the actions and decisions of these senior managers, rather than one single individual.
In the past, prosecutions failed against all but the smallest companies, so the new law could potentially lead to an increase in the number of corporate manslaughter cases against businesses of all sizes.
The government has said that it only expects the new law to be applied in the most serious and obvious cases and organizations with good safety policies have nothing to fear.