Metropolitan police officers investigating the deadly blaze at Grenfell Tower have said that there are “reasonable grounds to suspect” that the local council and the Tenant Management Organisation that manages social housing in the borough have committed corporate manslaughter.
Companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
The Act, which came into force on 6 April 2008, clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies including large organisations where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality.
Although this offence is not part of health and safety law, it does introduce an important new element in the corporate management of health and safety.
Prosecutions will be of the corporate body and not individuals, but the liability of directors, board members or other individuals under health and safety law or general criminal law, will be unaffected.
The corporate body itself and individuals can still be prosecuted for separate health and safety offences.
The Act also largely removes the Crown immunity that applied to the previous common law corporate manslaughter offence. It does however, provide a number of specific exemptions that cover public policy decisions and the exercise of core public functions.
In order to minimise the risk posed by this legislation companies and organisations should keep their health and safety management systems under review, in particular, the way in which their activities are managed and organised by senior management.
C&C Consulting Services Ltd, welcome the opportunity to challenge your existing health and safety management systems against the UK Guidance of HSG65 or current International standard of OHSAS 18001. A report outlining our findings and recommendations will be produced. Please contact us at your convenience.