By Paul Holmes, head of risk management, AA Business Services
Any enterprise with business drivers should be aware of the long-awaited Corporate Manslaughter Act.
This is due to come into force on 6 April this year.
Under this new legislation any business, no matter how small, could be prosecuted if a member of staff has an accident while driving at work if the vehicle is found to be un-roadworthy.
In addition, companies could still be prosecuted under the new act even if the driver was using their own personal vehicle for business use.
The Government says in its guidance that it only expects the new law to be applied to the most serious and obvious cases. And that those companies with good safety policies have nothing to fear.
But the reality is that every workplace fatality already results in an investigation by the Police. They look at the possibility of manslaughter before passing on responsibility to the Health and Safety Executive or Local Authority to investigate health and safety breaches. Once the new law is in force, the Police will have to look at the new corporate manslaughter offence and so will remain involved in any workplace fatality investigation for longer.
As a result it is more important than ever that employers put health and safety at the top of the agenda and keep abreast of good practice.
Small business checklist for the Corporate Manslaughter Act
With the above points in mind, small businesses should use the following checklist to ensure they are fully prepared for the new Act.
Check driving licences
Are employees legal to drive? Are there any speeding points?
Ensure vehicles are roadworthy
Small businesses are responsible for ensuring that cars are roadworthy. Companies must also make sure that drivers are shown how to make maintenance checks correctly to ensure oil levels and tyres are monitored regularly.
Make sure you have copies of your employees