The thought just struck me that when an individual accidentally kills someone else at least under certain conditions it can be a crime, like manslaughter.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manslaughter#Involuntary_manslaughter

And yet if an employer maintains a workplace in which conditions are such that someone is killed, that’s not a crime but at most is a civil matter for which monetary ‘remedy’ is the only real recourse.

A few thoughts on this…
First a question, what’s the history of each of these categories? The big categories -criminal vs civil, and the equation of civil with monetary (there’s a link here to the decline of equity, I think, because equity courts could compel specific performance) – and the smaller categories – manslaughter and similar acts, and torts. And how much of this is courts and how much legislative? Small question(s), I know…
One thought that strikes me is that this is partly about the apportionment of responsibility and rights. Individuals who kill someone in the course of going about their life own the responsibility for doing so. That’s part of being free and fully capable at law, I think – I think there’s a link posited between culpability and access to rights and freedoms. But/and… rights are apportioned such that at least in some cases one person has a right to make a claim that will impinge on another — if X kills Y’s loved one, Y can make some claim for restitution. A limit on how responsible X is (and, maybe the same thing, the specifications of what sort of responsibility X has) implies a limit on the sort and scope of claim Y can make. With regard to economic activity, there’s some limitation of the responsibility of Xs who are employees working alongside Ys – ie, co-workers who contribute to the death of another co-worker – and likewise limitations of the responsibility of Xs who are employers and managerial employees. Another question… history of the legal connection between property and responsibility — if a tree in my yard falls and hurts my neighbor or my neighbor’s property (somewhat similar/related scenarios – pets, for instance, and children…? slaves?) what have been the scopes of the responsibility, when and where? And does this vary with productive vs personal property? Because if it’s a tree that no one owns (or a dog, or an adandoned car whose owner is missing, etc), then probably the scenario is different. Because there’s I think a three place relationship — X, Y, and some agent of the state. Civil claims I think are a claim of Y on X backed by the state. Criminal matters are a claim of the state on X which Y may switch on by reporting or something (and in both the state has some level of claim on Y, as in the requirement to tell the truth in court). I suspect that part of this is about ideas of individual vs public good and I also suspect that that doesn’t map cleanly onto civil vs criminal… (and what about things like speeding tickets and fines, not quite criminal but not civil…?)
With regard to employers it seems to me that the law says that employers own their property and the products made by employees but their ownership of the responsibility for the effects of that property is limited. That means that the property is privatized, limiting claims Y can make via the state and claims the state can make, yet the responsibility and/or risk is socialized, in a way that often in practice actually means it’s individualized onto those without or with less property.

Edit:
More…. fines, their history, tied to an equation between money and time…? — as an alternative to incarceration, each being in one sense a taking of people’s time (at least for people who get money by the sale of their time, that’s a very important distinction).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speeding_ticket#United_States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infraction#United_States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine_%28penalty%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offence_%28law%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penal_law
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_law_%28common_law%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_law
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law

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