Charge of corporate manslaughter could be debated

By Kate Shuttleworth

Labour's list MP Andrew Little. Photo / Ross Setford
Labour's list MP Andrew Little. Photo / Ross Setford

A call to introduce a charge of corporate manslaughter from the families of 29 miners who died in the Pike River mine could be debated in Parliament if a Labour Party bill is drawn from the ballot.

A members' bills ballot will be held today and could see Labour's list MP Andrew Little's bill to amend the Crimes Act drawn.

It would allow companies to be charged with corporate manslaughter in cases of workplace deaths that are caused by failures at the board and senior management level.

Under the proposed bill a company or organisation could be fined up to $10 million, directors or senior manager could be sent to prison for 10 years for corporate failure.

Companies and organisations found guilty of corporate manslaughter would have to publicise the conviction, including in their annual report.

Mr Little said New Zealand had one of the worse workplace fatality records in the developed world.

"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."

- APNZ

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