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The Telegraph's legal expert, Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire of Thompsons Solicitors specialises in winning compensation for clients in personal injury cases. This week he explains how the new Corporate Homicide Act could focus employers' minds on improving health and safety at work.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came intoforce on 6 April 2008.

Its sponsors hope the Act's tough new penalties will lead to a greater focus on health and safety, and reduce workplace accidents and deaths. But critics say it would have been more effective if it had included powers to send company directors to jail.

The new Act applies to deaths resulting from the activities of companies, crown bodies, police forces, and large partnerships. In a year which marks the 20th anniversary of the Piper Alpha tragedy, where 167 oil workers died on an offshore oil platform, the new law represents a dramatic shift in the way workplace fatalities will be investigated and prosecuted.

Scottish companies can now be found guilty of Corporate Homicide as a result of serious management failures which represent a gross breach of their duty of care to employees.

They face fines that could run to a massive 10% of the company's annual turnover, and a 'publicity order' forcing them to publish details of their convictions and fines in national and local press. The damage to reputations could far outweigh any fine.

In 2006-2007 there were 24 workplace fatalities, while major injuries to workers amounted to a staggering 2,702 for the year.

A particular area which could see great change is that of road traffic accidents involving persons driving as part of their job.

This is an important area often ignored by employers in terms of compliance with the Working Time Regulations and putting in place driving policies and risk assessments.

It could only be a matter of time before a driving fatality leads to a Corporate Homicide investigation and possible prosecution.

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