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 The way it taught and supervised junior engineers was inherently dangerous and the methods of working were outdated.”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

TIPPER TRUCK STRUCK PEDESTRIAN ON SITE ROAD

Contractor fined £500,000 over poor traffic management arrangements

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 16th February 2018

FALLING SCAFFOLD CLIP STRUCK PASSER-BY

Firm failed to follow risk assessment and method statement

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 16th February 2018

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 14th FEB 2018

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 16th February 2018

HOMES FIRM FINED £1/2M OVER DUMPER DEATH

Developer and contractor failed to manage people and plant interface

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 14th February 2018

SUPREME COURT RULES ON HSE ENFORCEMENT NOTICES

Post service evidence can be used to support HSE notice appeals

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 9th February 2018

SAFE INSTALLATION OF PRE-CAST FLOORING

Code of Practice for health and safety updated by industry federation

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 8th February 2018

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 8th FEB 2018

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 8th February 2018

MANUAL HANDLING MUST INVOLVE ‘REAL RISK’

Court provides clarity on manual handling risk assessment rules

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th February 2018

SKIP LORRY DRIVER FATALLY INJURED BY LOADER

Hire company fined after lorry driver crushed between two vehicles

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 5th February 2018

PUBLIC RISK COSTS CONTRACTOR DEARLY

Principal Contractor failed to assess and supervise work

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 5th February 2018

TUBES FELL WHILST LIFTING OVER PERSONS BELOW

Lifting operations were not carried out in safe manner

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 2nd February 2018

‘DAREDEVIL’ SCAFFOLDER LANDS IN DOCK

Former HSE Inspector snaps dangerous working practices at 60 feet

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 2nd February 2018

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 1st FEB 2018

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 1st February 2018

DIDCOT FATAL COLLAPSE: INVESTIGATION UPDATE

Police and HSE still seeking to understand why boiler house collapsed

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 1st February 2018

SCAFFOLDER TRAINING REACHES NEW HEIGHTS

CISRS training card renewal by CPD embraced by scaffolders

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 30th January 2018

HSE SUMMARY OF CONSTRUCTION SECTOR HARM

Infographic provides insight into industry priority hazards

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 29th January 2018

FIRM FAILED TO IMPLEMENT AGREED CONTROLS

Risk assessment carried out but precautions not taken

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 29th January 2018

HSE MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS SUMMIT 2018

hselogo1Regulator focuses on MSDs in construction and others sectors

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 28th January 2018

LOAD FELL FROM MAGNET AND STRUCK WORKMAN

Firm failed to properly assess and revise crane safe working load

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 25th January 2018

RAISING THE BAR ON LIFTING OPERATIONS SKILLS

New ‘Lifting Technician Trailblazer Apprenticeship’ ready for delivery

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 24th January 2018

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 24th JAN 2018

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 24th January 2018

SCAFFOLDING FIRM FINED OVER UNSAFE LOADING

Bin of scaffold fittings lifted by crane struck scaffolder

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 24th January 2018

FATAL FALL FROM EDGE OF INDUSTRIAL ROOF

Suitable protection missing during installation of roof sheets

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 23rd January 2018

MANAGER AND PC FAILED TO ACT ON ASBESTOS SURVEY

Principal contractor and site manager sentenced over AIB dust

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 23rd January 2018

VEHICLE COLLISION ‘EJECTED’ MEWP OPERATOR

Fatal fall caused by failure to manage WAH and transport operations

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 23rd January 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 […]