Turner Access Higher Safety Total Access
Total Access Ethentic Chipmunk Data
Chipmunk Data Turner Access Ethentic

FIRST CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER SENTENCE DELIVERED

Organisations need to reflect on the implications for their businesses

Following conviction at Winchester Crown Court earlier this week Judge Mr Justice Field has delivered sentence in the case of Cotswold Geotechnical Holding Ltd. 

The company has been fined £385k in the first prosecution taken under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (CMCH 2007). The prosecution arose from the death of employee Alexander Wright in September 2008.

Previously for a corporate manslaughter prosecution to succeed it was necessary to secure a conviction against a senior individual within the company. This hurdle was part of the cause of failures of the prosecutions following the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster and the Southall and Hatfield rail disasters.

Mr Wright had been working alone in a 3.5m trench after managing director Peter Eaton, left for the day. The trench collapsed on Mr Wright and buried him. He died of asphyxiation.

Fine could put company into liqudation 

The company was described in court as being in a “parlous financial state” and was permitted to pay the fine over 10 years at £38,500 per annum. Mr Justice Field said the fine marked the gravity of the crime and the deterrent effect it would have on companies to adhere to health and safety guidance.

He said a larger fine would cause the small company to be liquidated, and four people would lose their jobs but added:

“It may well be that the fine in the terms of its payment will put this company into liquidation. If that is the case it’s unfortunate but unavoidable but it’s a consequence of the serious breach” 

Gloucestershire Constabulary said:

“As a result of our investigation we found the company had a cavalier attitude towards health and safety. The way it taught and supervised junior engineers was inherently dangerous and the methods of working were outdated.”

Implications for directors and managers

This prosecution involved a small organisation. Nevertheless, the fine is sizable and illustrates that larger more profitable companies can expect more substantial fines. For construction clients, designers and contractors this case highlights two other important implications arising from deaths at work.

1. Personal stress

The personal physical stress of the investigative and judicial process arising from a death at work should not be underestimated by those holding senior positions. The director of Cotswold [Peter Eaton] has been very unwell since the investigation started. The period of time between the incident and conclusion of proceedings is rarely likely to be less that 3-4 years.

2. Corporate reputation

Conviction under CMCH 2007 is a finding that the grossly negligent way directors and other senior staff managed the business caused the death of a person.

The way in which the business was managed will come under close investigation and presented before court. Full details of managememt failings will be laid bare for all to see.  

With increasing interest in health and safety throughout supply chains the implications for future business could be enormous. Clients may not be easily convinced an organisation has put in place sufficient changes to overcome failings that led to the death. 

On conviction companies could find themselves subject to publicity orders. This aspect of the act has yet to be fully tested and could potentially be highly damaging to the ongoing credibility of the business.

Future corporate manslaughter cases

There are a number of investigations in the pipeline arising from deaths at work that have occurred since CMCH 2007 came into force. These will move towards conclusion and it is likely that some will result in CMCH prosecutions involving larger companies.

Comment

There is guidance available on the practical leadership actions required to minimise the prospects of a CMCH 2007 prosecution being launched.

Our own menu of minimum actions for directors and senior manager are:

  • carry out your H&S duties diligently;
  • deal with and respond to issues without delay;
  • allocate sufficient time and resources to H&S management and controls;
  • be familiar with your own systems and standards;
  • take positive and visible steps to promote & encourage compliance;
  • know what good H&S management looks like and work towards it;
  • understand the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation and work on both; and
  • judge managers and staff on H&S performance in addition to other outputs.

Latest Construction Health and Safety News

FIRMS FINED £2M OVER FALLING PIPE FATALITY

Incorrect stacking of pipes triggered fall and crushing of workman

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 20th April 2018

DOMESTIC PROJECT PC HANDED JAIL TERM

Workman fell from unprotected roof edge on dormer extension

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 20th April 2018

MAJOR CONTRACTOR ERRED ON FRAGILE ROOF RISK

Firms fine £965,000 after painter fell through waiting room roof

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 19th April 2018

HSE ENFORCEMENT UPDATE 19th APRIL 2018

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 19th April 2018

STRUCTURAL SAFETY BODY LATEST NEWSLETTER

CROSS publishes reports and expert comment on a range of issues

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 18th April 2018

NEW BIM SPEC FOR SHARING H&S INFORMATION

Specification for sharing health and safety info during construction projects

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 17th April 2018

MANAGERS FORGED ASBESTOS DOCUMENTATION

Removal licence obtained using fake training and medical certificates

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 17th April 2018

FINE OVER INCORRECT AND MISLEADING SURVEY

Specialist asbestos company failed to detect AIB on demolition project

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 17th April 2018

IGNORING HSE ADVICE PENALISED BY LARGE FINE

Contractor fined over £50k for persistent WAH and welfare failings

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 17th April 2018

PRISON OVER BASEMENT EXCAVATION AND COLLAPSE

Building contractor jailed after house collapsed in Brighton

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 17th April 2018

DEFEATING POWER INTERLOCK CAUSED FLASHOVER

Systems for managing electrical safety found to be inadequate

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 17th April 2018

LADDER SAFETY FAILURES ATTRACT MASSIVE FINE

National window firm left workers to ‘own devices’

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 12th April 2018

FALLING MATERIAL STRUCK WORKMAN IN EXCAVATION

Risks of working in and near excavations highlighted by incident

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 4th April 2018

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 4th APRIL 2018

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 4th April 2018

HOUSING ASSOCIATION FAILED ON VIBRATION RISK

Assessment, management and health surveillance all found wanting

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 3rd April 2018

OCCUPIER AND CONTRACTOR FINED OVER FALL

Employee assisting contractor fell through roof during re-roofing project

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 3rd April 2018

HSE FEARFUL OF GROWING ’BLUE TAPE’ BURDEN

hselogo1ISO 45001 could generate fresh business to business demands

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 3rd April 2018

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 21st MAR 2018

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 28th March 2018

INCIDENTS: PASSER-BY STRUCK BY BRICKS

Pack of bricks appear to have fallen from crane

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 28th March 2018

HSE RECONSIDER HOW TO INFLUENCE SMALLER FIRMS

hselogo1Regulator advice and messages are failing to chime with the SME businesses

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 27th March 2018

DANGEROUS REMOVAL OF ASBESTOS CEMENT

Workers smashed asbestos sheets with crowbars whilst at risk of falling

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 27th March 2018

HSE LAUNCH CONIAN SHARING AND SUPPORT PLATFORM

hselogo1New HSE web community now open to the public

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 27th March 2018

FIRM FAILING ON HAVS SURVEILLANCE FINED £50,000

Door manufacturer failed to manage sanding and buffing tool vibration

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 27th March 2018

PRE-CAST FIRM FINED OVER FINGER AMPUTATION

Lack of guarding and training triggered table saw injury

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 26th March 2018

HSE STRIKE BEFORE A FALL ON SOLAR PANEL PROJECT

Director and company pay price for lack of fall prevention precautions

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 26th March 2018
Turner Access Chipmunk Data
Total Access Ethentic
Higher Safety Turner Access

One Response to “FIRST CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER SENTENCE DELIVERED”

  1. CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER PROSECUTION TRIAL DATE SET | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] in the first CHCH case (Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings) were significantly affected by the poor financial position of […]