According to figures released through a recent Freedom of Information request, the number of cases of corporate manslaughter opened by the Crown Prosecution Service has risen by 40 per cent between 2011 and last year.
In 2011 there were 45 cases brought, while last year that figure rose to 63. However, despite the rise in numbers, there have only been three convictions since 2008, although 141 cases have been opened since 2009 and there are currently 56 prosecutions ongoing.
Since the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 was introduced, large and medium-sized companies can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter for deaths arising from management failures which constitute a gross breach of a duty of care.
The first corporate manslaughter conviction in 2011 related to a 2008 fatality and the second, in 2012, related to a death in 2010, while the third conviction in 2012 related to a fatality in 2008. In December last year a garden nursery became the fourth company to be prosecuted under the Act following the fatal electrocution of a worker.
While only a week or so ago, the manager of Gleision Colliery in South Wales was charged with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter and a prosecution for four offences of corporate manslaughter against the owners of the mine, MNS Mining Ltd, is proceeding. Four men died at the colliery on 15 September 2011.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) during the reporting year of 2011-12, 173 workers were killed while at work, while there were a further 111,000 other injuries reported. The HSE estimates that the cost to society of workplace injury and illness in the year 2010-11 was £34bn.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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