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CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER: The 'Kill Bill' goes live, but are you prepared?

Date: 04 April 2008

The long-awaited Corporate Manslaughter Act comes into force this month and, as Tom Webster reports, you should be taking action to protect your company

The Corporate Manslaughter Act has been a long time in preparation.

Instigated as a result of a Law Commission report in 1996 that proposed a new crime of corporate killing, and coming into force on 6 April 2008, the act has drawn comment from all over the industry, with insurance broker firm Marsh calling it, "one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation in recent history".

However, a spokesman for the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents played down industry fears of a spate of prosecutions, stating that "organisations that take health and safety seriously have nothing to fear".

The spokesman continued: "We expect the number of prosecutions to be small, but we feel that the publicity order will have the largest effect.

"We don't know what sort of offences will be prosecuted, but the first cases that go to prosecution are going to attract significant interest."

Andy Leech, outgoing business leader at fleet software company CFC Solutions, was also of the opinion that for fleets that take risk management seriously, "there is no need to worry or take any action".

Leech, however, added: "It is still possible to find fleets, especially at the smaller end of the scale, where health and safety knowledge is limited," he continued. "These are the fleets that may, in the event of an accident, face the full force of the new corporate manslaughter law."

Ten things you should do

1. Check all drivers' licences regularly with DVLA (don't just photocopy)

2. Have drivers assessed (start with a simple assessment of accidents, then online testing, then driver training)

3. Monitor and record 'incidents'; fleet software can help with this

4. Act on information recorded

5. Keep your driver handbook updated

6. Become familiar with the Health and Safety documents (see 'Useful Online Documents' table above)

7. Check vehicle's lights, tyres, oil, screenwash levels and windscreen wipers regularly

8. Don't just include company cars in your checks, also check private cars used on work business

9. Ensure all health and safety process records, insurance documents, and driver and vehicle records are stored and accessible

10. Make sure journeys are necessary and sensibly planned

Useful contacts

ACFO - Trade body for fleet managers

Drive and Survive - Driver training and risk assessment

DriveTech - Road risk management and driver assessment

Fleet Risk Profiler - Fleet risk assessment company

Fleet Support Group - Fleet vehicle management company

ICFM - Training body for fleet managers

Useful online documents

Corporate Manslaughter Act

Driving at Work - Managing work-related road safety

Leading Health and Safety at Work

Police Road Death Investigation Manual

BusinessCar Corporate Manslaughter guide