New research has revealed the growing importance of robust health and safety measures to protect staff and businesses from potential Corporate Manslaughter claims, which can arise when deaths are caused by management failures that are deemed to constitute a gross breach of duty of care.
Figures published earlier this year by law firm Pinsent Masons show that the number of corporate manslaughter cases rose to 63 in 2012, compared with 45 in 2011 – an increase of 40%. The firm also warns of an increased focus by the Crown Prosecution Service on corporate manslaughter claims, claiming that momentum is growing around enforcement of the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, with a number of new cases in the pipeline.
Publication of this research has prompted the British Security Industry Association's (BSIA) Lone Worker Forum to reinforce the importance of protecting lone workers – those employees who work either alone or without direct supervision – as a key consideration for every business as part of its health and safety strategy.
Patrick Dealtry, Chairman of the BSIA's Lone Worker Forum, which consists of BSIA members who specialise in providing lone worker safety products and services to customers from a wide range of industry backgrounds, comments: "Almost by definition, lone working can be both intimidating and at times dangerous, so the protection of lone workers involves a twofold approach; not only to provide safeguards but also to offer reassurance to the people involved.
"Providing vulnerable employees with a mechanism to call for help if they feel threatened should be a key element of a company's health and safety policy, and also provides reassurance that they are fulfilling their duty of care."
According to Pinsent Masons, the statistics surrounding corporate manslaughter cases are surprising. Despite the fact that there have been a relatively small number of convictions – three since records began in 2008 – there have in fact been 141 corporate manslaughter cases opened, with 56 currently being investigated for prosecution.
More than six million people in the UK work either in isolation or without direct supervision, often in places or circumstances that put them at potential risk. A wide variety of organisations and industry sectors employ people whose jobs require them to work or operate alone, either regularly or occasionally.
Patrick adds: "Any business employing lone workers should take heed of this latest research and ensure that they have robust solutions in place, both to protect lone workers, and to reduce the risk of prosecution should an incident occur."
***The BSIA’s Lone Worker Forum has produced a comprehensive guide to help employers understand their obligations to lone workers. Download your copy of Lone Workers: An Employer’s Guide.
Alternatively, for more information about the BSIA's Lone Worker Forum, or to locate a reputable supplier of lone worker solutions, visit www.bsia.co.uk/lone-workers