Under the Act employees of companies, consumers and other individuals will be offered greater protection against the worst cases of employer negligence. The Act states that companies and organisations can now be found guilty of corporate manslaughter if they have failed to take their health and safety responsibilities seriously and have been negligent in their duty of care for their workers' safety.
The Act applies to companies and other corporate bodies in the public and private sector, Government departments, police forces and certain unincorporated bodies, such as partnerships.
The Act applies to the organisation itself and not to individual directors, managers or employees. However individuals can still be prosecuted for gross negligence, manslaughter and health and safety offences where there is sufficient evidence to pursue an accident claim.
Guidance on how to avoid health and safety negligence
Companies and organisations should keep their health and safety management systems under review, in particular, the way in which their activities are managed and organised by senior management.
The Institute of Directors and HSE have published guidance for directors on their responsibilities for health and safety. See 'Leading health and safety at work: leadership actions for directors and board members'
For smaller businesses the Health and Safety Executive publishes guidance on good health and safety policy. See ‘An introduction to health and safety: health and safety in small businesses’
HSE also publishes information on the key actions required by law that apply to nearly every business, including a 10-point list to ensure employee safety