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MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES OVER FAILED BOLT FATALITY

Oil giant faces HSW Act allegations and contractor charged with manslaughter 

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced (20 July) that Esso Petroleum Company Limited (Esso) and Austin and McLean Limited are to be charged in relation to the death of Juan Antonio Quintanilla Romero from Honduras.

Mr Juan Antonio Quintanilla Romero was working on a fuel tanker which had docked at the Oil Refinery in Fawley, Southampton, when he died on 30 August 2008. A large fuel pipe collapsed on him after the jib from which it was suspended gave way as a connector bolt, which was severely corroded, failed.

Offences to be charged:

  • Esso Petroleum Company Limited: Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 s.2, 3 & 4; Regulation 9 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER); Regulation 5 Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98)
  • Austin and McLean Limited: Gross negligence manslaughter against the company (corporate manslaughter under the common law); Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 s.2 & 3

Hampshire Police Service/HSE investigated the incident and liaised with the CPS for advice on whether any criminal charges should be brought against either Esso Petroleum Company Limited (Esso) – who own the Fawley Refinery and the jib that collapsed – or Austin and McLean Limited – who were hired by Esso to undertake maintenance on the jib.

Representatives of Esso and Austin and McLean Limited will appear at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on 5 September 2012.

Offence of gross negligence manslaughter

Gaon Hart, Senior Crown Advocate in the Special Crime team at the CPS said:

“I have very carefully considered the evidence and have decided that Austin and McLean Limited should be charged with offences including an offence of gross negligence manslaughter, relating to a gross breach of their duty of care towards Mr Romero.

I have also decided that Esso should be charged with Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 offences including those under sections 2, 3 and 4 relating to a failure to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of employees and visitors.

I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence resulting from the investigation to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is required in the public interest. Those are the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.”

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