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CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER GUIDANCE

Crown Prosecution Service publish manslaughter guidance

The Crown Prosecution Service has published comprehensive legal guidance on the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (CMCH), how it relates to the HSW Act 1974 and the approach adopted by the Police and HSE during the investigation of possible offences.

Comment: CMCH does not create a new offence. However, the advice from government is that organisations should (1) take the opportunity to think again about how risks are managed and be satisfied that systems and processes for managing health and safety are adequate; (2) ensure compliance with current health and safety laws in light of guidance “Leading health and safety at work – Leadership Actions for Directors and Board Members” and; (3) where necessary seek guidance on health and safety duties and how to meet them.

Police and HSE investigators will now be required to explore some searching and wide-ranging questions when investigating construction industry fatal accidents including:

  1. How well were the activities of the organisation managed or organised?
  2. Did the attitudes, policies, systems or accepted practices encourage failure or produce tolerance of it?
  3. Did any failure arise from a substantial failure at a senior level in the organisation? 
  4. How well did the organisation meet guidance produced by HSE?
  5. Were current H&S management systems reviewed after CMCH came into force?

These questions will take fatal accident investigations into challenging territory at senior levels and it is therefore vital that all organisations undertake the 3 key actions listed above.

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