It comments: 'The issue of how far companies are responsible for the health and safety of their employees and the public was raised again last week with the independent investigators' interim report to the HSE into the 2002 rail crash at Potters Bar in Hertfordshire, UK, in which seven people died, and 76 were injured. It suggests that poor maintenance of track was the likely cause and was part of a wider problem. In the UK, the HSE and local authorities can prosecute companies who fail to comply with health and safety law but most convictions result in fines-the average for 2001-02 being around 8000. Prosecutions for manslaughter are rare, and since 1997, no large company or its directors have been successfully prosecuted.'
In April 2000 the UK Government proposed radical legislation for health and safety, including a new law on corporate killing. However the editorial is critical of the UK Government's latest position: 'Unfortunately it seems that this sentence in the [UK Government's] 2000 proposals indicates its thinking. "In considering the potential liability of corporations in the criminal law, the Government has borne in mind the reason why the corporations were established in the first place"-ie to generate profits for largely unaccountable shareholders. It seems that the law on corporate killing will not target individual directors, but will be directed at companies, with financial penalties imposed. Intense lobbying by the business community has apparently been fruitful; the Government conceding that a failure to act responsibly in matters of health and safety should not have consequences for those who otherwise benefit from a company's financial success.'
This issue is not confined to the UK. The editorial concludes: 'The UK is not alone in having difficulty with reconcili
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