Such a boring subject…

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Let’s be honest, most people do not take health & safety serious until something happens, correct?

We are not accusing you of this, but like most fast paced lifestyles nobody stops to take heed until the pleeeeep hits the fan.

This was one of the thoughts behind the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 which is a landmark in law.

Companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

Starting to pay attention? Ummm a corporate culture change to take H&S more seriously?

The Act clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies including large organisations where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality.

Prosecutions will be of the corporate body and not individuals, but the liability of directors, board members or other individuals under health and safety law or general criminal law, will be unaffected. Further, the corporate body itself and individuals can still be prosecuted for seperate health and safety offences.

The Act also largely removes the Crown immunity that applies to the existing common law corporate manslaughter offence.

The cases

22.12.2015 Baldwins Crane Hire Limited. 

Convicted of corporate manslaughter. Fined £700,000 plus costs

Baldwins Crane Hire Ltd. has been sentenced to a fine of £700,000 at Preston Crown Court after being found guilty of corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences. It was also ordered to pay all CPS costs and half of the Health and Safety Executive’s costs. The conviction followed the death of one of their employees, Lindsay Easton, in 2011.

Mr. Easton was employed as a crane operator. At the time of his death he was driving a 16 wheel, 130 tonne crane down an access road to Scout Moor quarry and wind farm at Edenfield, Lancashire. The crane had been brought to the site to replace another crane (which had broken down). As he drove the crane down the access road it crashed after failing to negotiate a steep bend. Mr. Easton was killed in the collision.

The investigation found that the crash was caused by serious problems with the braking system of the crane, which had not been properly maintained. The crane was fitted with four separate auxiliary braking systems in addition to the ordinary footbrake. Three of the auxiliary braking systems had been disconnected altogether and the fourth was damaged. There were also serious faults with the main braking system, with no operable brakes at all on seven wheels and faults or excessive wear to the remaining nine.

Baldwins Crane Hire Ltd was responsible for these failings.

24.9.15 Linley Developments Ltd. 

Convicted of corporate manslaughter. Fined £200,000 plus costs of £25,000

On 24 September 2015 a Hertfordshire building firm, Linley Developments, was sentenced for the corporate manslaughter of a worker who was crushed when a structurally unsound retaining wall collapsed. The company’s Managing Director and Project Manager were both also given suspended prison sentences after pleading guilty to breaching CDM Regulations.

Gareth Jones who was 28 years old died instantly on 30 January 2013 when a wall collapsed on him on Mile House Lane in St Albans. Two days before the incident, Managing Director Trevor Hyatt visited the site to find that the foundations for the storeroom would leave the floor at a higher level than in the adjoining building. Project manager Alfred Baker suggested putting in a step but the client said he would prefer them at the same level.

Two workers told Mr. Hyatt that, if they were to dig lower, they might need to underpin the footing of the existing wall. He told them to dig to a lower level regardless.

An investigation found that:

  1. Linley Developments, failed to carry out a risk assessment or create a method statement for the excavation;
  2. Linley Developments had not installed supports or buttresses to prevent the wall falling forward as the trench deepened; and
  3. The wall was inherently unsafe because, during construction a year before, the foundations had not been bonded with it.

Trevor Hyatt, 50, of Letty Green, Hertford was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 28 and 31 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. He was also fined £25,000 with £7,500 in costs. Judge Bright said he had considered disqualifying him as a Director but did not believe it “necessary, proportionate or just to do so”.

Alfred Barker, 59, of Gazeley, Suffolk was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 28 and 31 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. He was ordered to pay costs of £5,000.

Mr. Hyatt and Mr. Baker also faced charges of gross negligence manslaughter, but they were not proceeded with after they pleaded guilty to the two CDM breaches.

Linley Developments was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000 after pleading guilty to corporate manslaughter on 7 September. It was allowed to pay the fine over six years. The judge also made a publicity order against the company, instructing them to take out an advert in the trade press detailing their prosecution.

The publicity order stated:

“Linley Developments Ltd was convicted on 7 September 2015 of corporate manslaughter arising out of the death of Gareth Jones, a subcontracted employee, at a development in St Albans on 30 January 2013. Linley Developments Ltd admitted acting in a gross breach of their duty by failing to take sufficient care for his safety. Failings included failing to prepare a risk assessment for the excavation works, failing to assess and monitor the stability of the wall and failing to ensure that the wall did not become unstable as a result of the excavation work.”

The advert appeared on the Construction Enquirer website throughout December 2015 and could be viewed by up to 60,000 people each day.

NOTE:

This is the first time a publicity order has resulted in an advert being taken out in the trade press, rather than in local papers or on the company’s own website. The publication of this advert has an untold effect on the reputation of the company and will undoubtedly result in a significant loss of orders.

 

Needing information on advice on this subject then contact the team at Ferguson Legal here



construction / health and safety