The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 finally became law in July 2007.
The Act, which is Ministry of Justice (MoJ) legislation, imposes no new duties and organisations that already take their obligations seriously and that seek to comply fully with health and safety law, will have nothing to fear from this new offence. Nonetheless, we should continue to encourage organisations to take this opportunity to review their health and safety management systems and, in particular, the way in which their activities are managed or organised by their senior management.
The Offence will be called ‘corporate manslaughter’ in England and Wales and ‘corporate homicide’ in Scotland.
This Act comes into force on 6 April 2008 and will not be retrospective. Provisions relating to publicity orders (Section 10 of the Act) will commence when sentencing guidelines are published, and this is unlikely to be by 6 April 2008. In addition, provisions relating to the management of custody (Sections 2(1)(d) and 2(2) of the Act) will not be implemented for a further 3-5 years. The Act also largely removes the Crown immunity that applies to the existing common law corporate manslaughter offence.
New operational guidance on the corporate manslaughter/homicide offence has been produced by HSE. Operational Circular OC165/9 provides operational guidance on the Work-related Deaths Protocol, and the new Appendix 2 to this Circular provides additional guidance on individual and corporate manslaughter/homicide.
Local Authorities (LAs) will sometimes find they are required to offer advice to duty-holders on issues around the new offence, and on other occasions may themselves be the subject of a corporate manslaughter/homicide investigation. In particular, LA enforcement officers may be approached for advice by colleagues on the impact of the Act on LAs, in which case you may wish to refer them to the Local Government Employers’ advice page.
The investigation and prosecution of corporate manslaughter/homicide remains the responsibility of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (England and Wales) and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland. However, regulators, including LAs and HSE, may be called upon to assist in any investigation that ensues. Where the regulators are signatories to the Work-related Deaths Protocol, their role should be conducted in accordance with the principles of the Protocol. Please see the Work-related Death Protocol and Guidance for more information.
On 28 September, the Government published its response to consultation on the draft RES Bill. The key issues outlined include a continued Government commitment to establish Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) as a statutory corporation. The Government remains committed to establishing an effective Primary Authority Principle and it has acknowledged the concerns expressed by Local Authorities and other stakeholders and is considering how best to address these. In addition, the need for a clear distinction between the guidance issued by LBRO and national regulators was highlighted as an area to be addressed.
The report also highlighted the Government’s commitment to delivering on the vision set out in the Macrory report of a modernised system of regulatory sanctions that are proportionate, flexible and effective. It has noted the concerns expressed about the strength of the safeguards in the draft Bill and it is considering whether further detail should be added to the face of the Bill.
The fall from vehicles campaign, which is part of the Workplace Transport Programme, commenced on 1 October with adverts in the trade press, targeted mail shots and inspections. A number of events are being organised by both HSE and Local Authorities.
The campaign messages are being spread during the inspections for the Moving Goods Safely 3 Project, which also started at the beginning of October. Technical and enforcement guidance on falls from vehicles is given in the revised Inspection topic pack, which is on HELex. A number of presentations for use at events are also on the extranet under MGS.
Judith Hackitt CBE will succeed Sir Bill Callaghan as Chair of the Health and Safety Commission. Ms Hackitt, whose five year term with HSC will commence on 1st October 2007, is returning from an assignment as Director of the Chemistry for Europe project with the European Chemical Industry Council based in Brussels.
Welcoming Ms Hackitt to her new role Sir Bill Callaghan said, "Congratulations to Judith Hackitt on her appointment. Her previous role as a Commissioner and her considerable experience in the chemical industry makes her well placed for the responsibility for taking forward the HSC's Strategy for making health and safety a cornerstone of our society, achieving a record for workplace health and safety that leads the world and seeing through the merger of HSC and HSE."
Judith Hackitt was awarded a CBE in June 2006 for her services to health and safety at work. She trained as a Chemical Engineer at Imperial College, London and was previously employed as Group Risk Manager at Elementis PLC with world-wide responsibility for health and safety insurance and litigation.
In 1998 Ms Hackitt joined the Chemical Industries Association as Director of Business and Environment. She became Director General of the Association in April 2002. She was appointed as a member of the Health and Safety Commission on the same date. She held that post until December 2005.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) (HSE’s sponsor Department) has submitted proposals to the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) for a national indicator relevant to the partnership between HSE and Local Authorities (LAs). Acceptance of this indicator would mean that it would form part of the proposed 200 national indicators being developed in response to the Local Government White Paper, Stronger and prosperous communities. The Government is keen to ensure that the national indicators reflect the local government regulatory priorities identified by Peter Rogers. The submission argues the need for a joined up indicator, which: reflects the health of the local working age population and the impact on their capability for work; creates a focus for seeking to achieve specific outcomes; and captures the joined up work between local authorities and HSE, DWP, and the Department of Health.
The indicator would place a greater focus on the objectives of the cross government Health, Work and Well-being (HWWB) strategy. It will look at the impact of partnership working at local level to reduce the numbers of people leaving work and moving on to incapacity benefits because of occupational ill health. It is envisaged that LAs would work in partnership with DWP, HSE, the NHS (specifically Primary Care Trusts) and employers.
CLG is expected to present their agreed indicator set to local authorities shortly to coincide with the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.
The Better Regulation Executive (BRE) and the National Audit Office (NAO) have recently carried out a review of HSE to explore whether it is implementing Hampton effectively. The review team considered whether there was evidence to support HSE's work to demonstrate: a risk-based approach; transparency and accountability; and economic progress. The review team, which included Executive Director of LACORS, Derek Allen, also considered the HSE/LA Partnership. The partnership has already been flagged up by BRE as an area of good practice. The final report is due in early 2008.
HSE’s regional Partnership Managers (PMs) met on 2-3 October to review exiting activity and discuss future plans. The PMs discussed a range of issues including: the Fit3 portfolio for 2008/09; the workplace transport campaign; Local Area Agreements (LAAs); and piloting an S&T database across the Midlands, The meeting was also attended by representatives of LAU, LACORS and Fit3. Further details will be disseminated to LAs through HSE’s Partnership Teams.