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Death of an employee likely to cost construction businesses at least half a million

Construction businesses found guilty of the new offence of corporate manslaughter could face fines of at least half a million pounds.

New draft guidelines on sentencing for the offence have been analysed by health & safety expert Paul Darby from training company Pivotal Performance.

And he notes that fines will not be linked to profit or turnover.

"The original proposal was that a company convicted of corporate manslaughter would be fined between 2.5 and 10 per cent of its turnover.

"But that has been rejected by the Sentencing Guidelines Council. It decided that approach could risk an unfair outcome, and could create what it calls a ‘perverse incentive’ to adjust corporate structure to avoid the proper consequences of offending.

"So the council is now proposing fines of at least £500,000. It’s likely some companies will be fined millions."

Paul said companies that fall foul of the new law won’t just be punished financially.

He added: "Courts will also be able to order the offending business to advertise the fact of its conviction, with what will be known as a publicity order.

"And if they don’t comply, they could face an unlimited fine."

There is a further option of a remedial order, where the court can set out the steps that must be taken to addresses the failures that led to the death of an employee in the first place.

Responses to the new proposals must be submitted by 5 January 2010

Paul Darby is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner, holds a NEBOSH diploma (the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety & Health) and many military qualifications.

Before his current career, he was chief instructor at the Royal Engineers Diving School in Germany.

Pivotal Performance is one of the UK’s leading health and safety training companies.

It has a unique way of training people called PPTplus, which teaches delegates how to win commitment from others, not just compliance.

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