Bill introduces corporate manslaughter charge
A member’s Bill that allows companies to be charged with corporate manslaughter will fill a long-standing gap in our health and safety laws, the Bill’s sponsor Labour List MP Andrew Little says.
“The Bill amends the Crimes Act to create a crime of corporate manslaughter to apply in cases of workplace deaths that are caused by failures at the board and senior management level.”
The penalties in the Bill include:
- A fine on a company or organisation up to $10 million
- Imprisonment up to 10 years for any director or senior manager shown to be responsible for the corporate failure
- A publicity order requiring the offending company or organisation to publicise the conviction, including in any annual report.
“The Royal Commission report on Pike River shows that a gross failure at the board level of a company can be catastrophic and deadly.
“The track record of prosecutions under the Health and Safety Act is that they tend to focus on lower level failures because getting the evidence and securing the conviction are easier, but personal responsibility for fatalities goes unchecked.
“My own experience as a union lawyer and official dealing with cases of workplace death is that the police are usually reluctant to get heavily involved because the Department of Labour is seen as having exclusive jurisdiction over workplace issues. In matters as serious as a death on the job the police should be involved and this will give them jurisdiction to do so.
“New Zealand has one of the worst workplace fatality records in the developed world and we need to sheet home responsibility to all levels of an organisation, including those at the top. This Bill allows us to do that,” Andrew Little said.