HSE consults

The Health and Safety Commission has launched two consultations. The first is a proposal to amend the current Work at Height Regulations 2005 to include those who are paid to lead or train climbing and caving activities in the adventure activity sector.

To download a copy of the consultation (which closes on 31 October), go to: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2006/c06020.htm

The second is a proposal to introduce new and revised Workplace Exposure Limits. To download a copy of the consultation paper (which closes on 27 September), go to: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2006/c06016.htm

Thompsons publishes responses to Government consultations here.

Corporate manslaughter Bill published

After much prevarication, the Government finally published the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill in July. Although the Bill is a step in the right direction, it will not have as much impact as was hoped because of the retention of the “senior manager test”.

This is what in law is called a “controlling mind” test. Existing health and safety law says that, to get a conviction of manslaughter, there has to be a causal link between a grossly negligent act (or omission) by a person who is the “controlling mind” of the company and the cause of death.

This requirement has made it virtually impossible to secure convictions. Retaining the test is not going to make it any easier. The other weakness is that fines and remedial orders are the only penalties.

However, the Bill has introduced some changes which are to be welcomed:

• the abolition of Crown immunity
• application of the Bill to the police
• increased cover for agency workers and suppliers of services, particularly relevant to the construction industry
• improvements and clarification of the meaning of duty of care
• improved guidance to juries in considering whether there was a gross breach
• penalties for breach of a remedial order (fines)

Thompsons’ interim briefing on the Bill can be read here.