The Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 has been highlighted in the news recently, as the first conviction under the law took place in February this year. This has been an important case for many industries, causing calls for greater awareness in management.
One industry that has been singled out as being one of the most vulnerable is fleets. With long hours, harsh weather conditions and many other obstacles to contend with, fleet drivers are under huge risk of causing a fatal accident. A third of all crashes involve someone who is working, so protecting your fleet is more important that you may have first thought.
What does the Corporate Manslaughter Act mean?
Just because an individual driver causes a fatality, does not necessarily mean they will be the one who is liable.When a death occurs as a result of a negligent act or omission by a senior manager, this is classified as corporate manslaughter. A lack of health and safety training, long driving hours, or not keeping up with vehicle maintenance are all examples of manager omissions that can be fatal.
If there is evidence of such negligence, the senior manager will be liable for the death.
What are the repercussions of a Corporate Manslaughter conviction?
In February 2011, Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd was fined £385,000 after being found guilty of Corporate Manslaughter. This fine will be hugely damaging for a relatively small company.
Since then, sentencing guidelines have suggested fines will start at £500,000, but as there are no upper limits, they could actually run into the millions.
And not only are there fines to consider, but directors could be issued with a publicity order which forces them to make their conviction public, causing irreparable damage to the company’s reputation.
So what can you do to limit possible risks?
It is important that fleet managers are aware of their responsibilities towards their employees. Particular care should be taken to ensure employees are complying with the required duty of care when driving a vehicle, and that they have been provided with all necessary health and safety training. Each employee should also understand their responsibility in maintaining their vehicle properly, to prevent accidents of this nature from occurring.
It is also incredibly important that you have the correct insurance cover in place in as accidents do happen, and being prepared for them can really save your business.
What should you do next?
At Ae Insurance Brokers we have 30 years of experience arranging bespoke fleet insurance for all types of goods carrying vehicles. We also help evaluate any possible risks and decide on the necessary solutions which can reduce the chances of an accident.