The very real prospect of prosecution

Over the last few days, research findings have been published revealing a strong upward trend in the number of company directors who have been prosecuted for health and safety offences. The new analysis, conducted by law firm Clyde & Co, draws on data from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which indicates a threefold rise in senior management prosecutions from 15 in 2014/15 to 46 in the year ending 31 March 2016.

Perhaps even more interesting is the contrasting drop from 10 to one in the number of employees who were prosecuted over the parallel periods. The conclusion? Senior managers must prepare to be held accountable for any anomalies in their team’s overall health and safety performance.

The move towards increasing prosecutions – and indeed increasing values of fines –follows the landmark Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act of 2007, which allows companies to be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures.

For organisations of all sizes, the implications are clear: breaches of health and safety legislation will be dealt with severely by the HSE – not only in the most serious cases but also for non-fatal offences and even those where nobody has been injured.

Creating and maintaining a positive health and safety culture must therefore be driven from board level. An essential part of this process is a heightened awareness of the organisation’s duty of care.

In response to the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter & Corporate Homicide Act, Matrix Risk Control developed its unique ‘Day from Hell’ training event. The immersive experience, which has proven to be one of our most popular courses, provides senior management teams with a genuine test of their ability to cope when faced with an operational crisis.

Sounds uncomfortable? Perhaps. But a simulated Day from Hell is surely preferential to a real-life day in court.