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DIRECTORS FINED FOLLOWING SLAB DEATH

Fatality prompts Section 37 prosecution of two directors

 

Marble City Ltd and directors Gavin and Jamie Waldron have been prosecuted following a fatal incident in March 2008 when granite and marble slabs were being unloaded from a vehicle. 

Judge Taylor at Southwark Crown Court heard that director Gavin Waldron was supervising the unloading operation at the time of the death.

Six tonnes of stone slab had not been restrained

Driver Gelsomino Pacifico, an Italian national, was instructed to park his truck and trailer nearer the yard.

The vehicle was parked on a slope on the road causing the stone slabs on the trailer to lean towards the kerb. Mr Pacifico and two other workmen mounted the trailer to begin unloading the slabs. 

During unloading six tonnes of unrestrained slabs became unstable and fell, crushing the workman, who died from his injuries in hospital one week later.

The court heard that the other two men tried to restrain the slabs but became trapped and sustained serious injury.

Unsafe system of unloading operated for several years

Marble City Ltd of Wandsworth pleaded guilty to HSW Act 1974 offences and was fined of £100k and ordered to pay prosecution costs of over £47k.

Directors, Gavin and Jamie Waldron were  prosecuted by virtue of HSW Act S.37 for allowing the company to commit the offences due to their negligence. They were each fined £10k.

HSE investigation revealed that company had failed to ensure deliveries were unloaded safely over a number of years. 

Employers need to identify unsafe systems before incidents occur 

HSE Inspector, Andrew Verrall-Withers, said: “Too many employers have good intentions, but fail to protect their employees as well as they think they are.

Employers need to check how well they are protecting their employees and not find out they are failing when tragically it is too late and someone is hurt and killed.

The system of work for unloading slabs of stone was dangerous, but it would have been fairly easy to make it much safer. ”

Comment

This case provides further evidence that the sentencing guidelines are beginning to have an effect on the level of fines. The fine at £100k is the expected minimum where a death is involved.

The prosecution of two directors suggests that whilst prosections under Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 may be infrequent the evidence collected during a CMCH investigation may well support prosecution of directors by virtue of HSW Act Section 37.

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