There is increasing focus on legislation and prosecutions following serious or fatal road traffic collisions. Arguably, the most dangerous piece of machinery built by man is a box with at least four wheels at each corner. Think carefully about the attention your business pays to train people how to drive these dangerous pieces of machinery. As an employer understanding the legislative and practical implications of dealing with the consequences is imperative. If the Sentencing Councils guidelines of “Health and Safety Offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety and food hygiene offences” mean nothing to you then read on. If it does read on anyway….!
The guidance came into force on 1st February 2016 and very simply it means substantial increases in the level of fines imposed by the courts for Health and Safety offences and Corporate Manslaughter for businesses and an increased likelihood of going to jail for individual offenders. We would draw your particular attention to page 11 and page 15 which highlight the sentencing range for a driver found to be guilty of causing death by dangerous driving or careless driving. A maximum of 14 years for death by dangerous driving , and 5 years for death by careless driving.
It is likely that we will see increases in prosecution and defence costs. The stakes are higher. In addition, companies need to really understand the true cost of a regulatory investigation into a workplace accident.
The financial implications of a serious workplace accident are eye watering. The courts will assess Culpability – the failure to meet standards and judged in four categories from very high to low. They will then assess Harm – again in four categories.
The new sentencing guidelines has the prospect of multi-million pound fines for larger organisations. Just take a Large organisation (£50m t/o and above). A serious offence has a starting point of £4m fine increased to £10m. Corporate manslaughter offences will attract significantly higher penalties – £20m. The courts may also find it necessary to go beyond the guidelines where an organisation turnover greatly exceeds £50m.
All Directors should take an increased focus in ensuring that Health and Safety is well managed.
What would you do in the event of a fatal road traffic collision?
The police investigation will start as soon as your driver is asked “what happened” To protect your driver’s interests and your organisation you must ensure legal representation is available immediately. We are partnered with DAC Beachcroft Motor Prosecutions team to make sure this happens. The team has a formidable reputation defending the most serious motoring offences both with criminal prosecutions and the appropriate advice around the inevitable civil claim and insurance considerations.
The use of mobile phones and avoidable distractions
The Courts are paying particular attention to the use of mobile phones and the implications of company policy when a driver is involved in a fatal collision. Anthony Jones and DAC Beachcroft can help you to draft a use of mobile phone policy and whether your organisation has done “everything that is reasonably practicable”. This would extend to an organisation that provides driver’s with hands –free equipment and employment and HR issues including the right to dismiss a driver involved in a fatal road traffic collision and the aftermath of a police investigation.
Why this really matters?
Think carefully about your choice of insurance broker. It matters that you partner with people who understand your sector and the insurance market that caters for it. Experience matters. A poorly managed insurance choice based on price alone can very quickly outweigh that short term saving. Make sure your broker helps you to improve your risk profile and have in place risk management measures that puts you in as much control as you can in managing the cost of insurance.
Anthony Jones in association with DAC Beachcroft are able to help you to understand how to draft and implement a Driving Policy for your business. The Health and Safety Team at DAC Beachcroft operate a 24 hour service where immediate assistance is needed where drivers are interviewed by the police under caution. This ensures you have as much control as you can on possible criminal proceedings and protecting your interests in any civil claim which may follow.
Anthony Jones DAC Beachcroft Motor Prosecutions information
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Steve Green ACII