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NI CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER PROSECUTION CONCLUDED

Serious management failings resulted in gross breach of care duty 

JMW Farms Limited of Northern Ireland has been fined at Belfast Crown Court for health and safety failings led to the death of 45-year-old employee Robert Wilson on a pig farm in November 2010.

The company is the first in Northern Ireland to be convicted of Corporate Manslaughter legislation under which companies and organisations can be found guilty as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

The company was fined £187,500 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £13,000

Man riding ‘bin’ not attached or integrated with fork lift

Mr Wilson died after being struck by a metal bin which fell from a forklift driven one of the defendant company directors. The investigation revealed that the bin had not been attached or integrated with the forklift. It was not possible to insert the lifting forks into the sleeves of the bin as the forks were too large and incorrectly spaced.

Following the hearing, Louis Burns, HSENI Acting Deputy Chief Executive, said:

“This case highlights the importance of managing health and safety in the workplace and demonstrates the terrible consequences of not doing so. The judgement sends a clear message to the Directors in Northern Ireland, whether of a small or large organisation, that they should take health and safety seriously.

This new Corporate Manslaughter legislation clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality. I would therefore urge anyone with a managerial or a supervisory role to ensure that proper management and control systems are in place to prevent another needless death from occurring.”

It has been suggested by Eversheds Solicitors that the level of fine in this case may be seen as ‘low’. However, corporate manslaughter legislation has turned “the spotlight on company directors and senior managers” such that “those at the top of organisations should seek advice as to where there legal responsibilities towards health and safety begin and end”.

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