Over the summer the first charge of unlawfully killing a member of staff under the Corporate Manslaughter ACt 2007 took place. Peter Eaton, the Sole Director ofCotswold Geotechnical Holdings was charged for unlawfully killing Alexander Wright who died when a trench from which he was collecting soil samples collapsed and killed him in Stroud in September last year.

Under the corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 an organisation is guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a death. It amounts to a gross breach of the duty of care to the dead person.

I fear few business owners are fully aware of the increased penalties they face under the new Health and Safety regulations. Certainly few that we talk to have been been aware of that someone has been charged.  Although there was some press coverage of the case it hasn’t seemed to make much of an impression in the board room. Company directors bare the responsibility for the safety of their workforce, a responsibility they cannot pass on to anyone else. I fear it may take the directors of a national FTSE listed companies to face a similar charge before this gets the coverage it’s importance probably needs.