Lawyers have warned that managers in the waste management sector could face jail if they do not know how to protect themselves against prosecutions under the new Corporate Manslaughter Act.
Law firm Weightmans regulatory department partner Chris Green said that waste management companies could be fined up to five per cent of their companys turnover under the Corporate Manslaughter Act or face imprisonment.
The Corporate Manslaughter Act came into force in April 2008.Green said that in the waste management industry, managers are not fully aware about the provisions of the Act and its implications. He said that sentencing guideline consultation reviews have indicated that the starting points for fines should be determined by a companys turnover rather than, as at present, its profit.
Green said: Many managers and directors in this industry seem to think that theyll be untouched by the Corporate Manslaughter Act but the truth is that they could still be held personally responsible for safety offences even if an employee is not injured or killed during an accident in the workplace, and even if they are not grossly negligent then they could still face imprisonment or a hefty fine.
The latest statistics form the Health & Safety Executive show that the number of fatal incidents in the waste industry is over ten times the national average.
Green said that there was no reason why the waste management sector should result in such a high number of accidents in the workplace.
He explained: An examination of the major fatalities recorded actually reveals that the issues are no more specific to waste management than you would find in any other part of manufacturing, or indeed any other sector. Such cases relate to unguarded machinery, workplace transport and injuries caused by moving objects, fairly well known risks and yet still a big issue in this industry.