07 April 2008 | Paul Snell
More than half of companies are unprepared for the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, which came into force yesterday.
Research by employment law firm Peninsula found 54 per cent of companies did not know about the changes, which could hold buyers accountable if staff are killed while travelling on business.
A further 74 per cent of firms still have not yet reviewed safety policies and procedures in light of the new legislation.
Purchasers have already been warned that police will not ignore them if there has been any negligence in the procurement process leading to an accident (News, 14 February 2008).
Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula, said small firms were most at risk. "With over a million firms employing 10 people or less the vast majority do not have written health and safety procedures and certainly have poor safety operating procedures. These are the companies who are vulnerable if any accident occurs resulting in death."
Insurance broker Marsh has advised firms to examine their insurance options, because fines under the law start at 5 per cent of a company's average annual turnover.
"Firms can be ready for the potential impact of prosecution by identifying and being prepared for the particular risks that the legislation raises for their organisation," said Marc Spurling, business risk consultant in the firm's risk consulting practice. "Taking such steps may save money, damage to reputation and, most importantly, lives."