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Marsh warns over health & safety risk management

25 February 2010

England and Wales organisations must embed robust health & safety risk management practices or face severe financial and reputational penalties, warns Marsh

Marsh’s warning follows the introduction in England and Wales of new sentencing guidelines for the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007. These measures impact all organisations found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of a gross breach of the duty of care which results in the death of an individual. Such a breach will involve failures by senior management in the discharge of their health and safety responsibilities.

In addition to financial penalties, publicity orders are likely to be appropriate in most cases as part of the punishment. The order will specify the place where the public announcement will be made and consider the size and prominence of the notice or advertisement. The organisation may also be compelled to make a statement on relevant websites, ensuring that the information is brought to the attention of shareholders and/or members of the public.

Marc Spurling, a Claims Defensibility Consultant in Marsh Risk Consulting, explained: “The government expects that cases of corporate manslaughter or homicide following a death at work will be rare, as the offence is intended to cover only the worst instances of failure across an organisation. However, if a successful prosecution does occur, the penalties could be severe.

“As well as the financial penalties, the publicity order penalties, by which the organisation can be compelled to advertise its prosecution, could potentially damage its reputation further and harm the success of the organisation in the longer-term.


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