IAM RoadSmart is calling on the Health and Safety Executive to use the corporate manslaughter act to bring to account large companies.
In a white paper commissioned by the road safety charity, it says that nobody has been prosecuted for contributing to an avoidable death under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (CMCHA) since it was introduced 10 years ago.
Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart business development director, said: “Many in the transport and driver risk management arena welcomed the Corporate Manslaughter Act legislation when it was introduced, believing it would make it easier to hold organisations more closely to account for the wellbeing and safety of those engaged in driving for work, with safety benefits for other road-users.
“A few years ago the fleet industry was buzzing with experts warning companies that if they didn’t implement proper, robust workplace driving policies to safeguard the public and the workforce, they would all be going to jail. It was going to be transformational for road safety.
“Yet no company car driver or senior manager involved in an avoidable death has been anywhere near a prosecution. It seems the legislation has proved difficult to apply.”
The document – called ‘The Corporate Manslaughter Act, Ten Years On’ – also summarises some of the early convictions under the act, none of which relate to driving at work.
The IAM RoadSmart analysis concludes that, despite estimates that “more than a quarter” of “all road incidents” involve someone driving, riding or using the road for work, making it the UK’s most dangerous work-related activity, “The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which should be taking a lead with CMCHA, is not fully engaged with it. We want to see the driving seat seen much more firmly as a place of work, with all that would entail under health and safety legislation.”
Professor Steve Tombs of the Open University said in the whitepaper that corporate manslaughter is “too far down the pecking order” and has no dedicated team at the HSE.
“It has not done what it was designed to do; bring to account large companies.
“Where the law falls down is in its ability to identify fault in one central headquarters location or with the senior executive. You can always pin it down to the individual man or woman driving.
"But showing ‘he or she was failing to operate in a way that was required by the company’ is much harder.”
Neil Greig, director of policy and research of IAM RoadSmart added: “If a company director forced someone to drive too many hours in the day, or employed someone who had been banned (from driving) and there was a crash resulting in a fatality, a prosecution would help send a message to businesses that a lot more care needs to be taken in this area.”
‘The Corporate Manslaughter Act, Ten Years On’ is the first of several white papers commissioned by IAM RoadSmart and is aimed at the business driver community that will be featured on its new website at www.iamroadsmart.com/business.