A conviction at Preston Crown Court is the latest successful prosecution under The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (“the Act”).
The Act, which has been in force since 6 April 2008, enables companies and organisations to be found guilty of corporate manslaughter where serious management failures result in a gross breach of a duty of care.
In this case Peter Mawson Limited, a building and joining firm, were prosecuted under the Act when a worker died having fallen through a skylight onto a concrete floor 7.6 metres below. The HSE investigating inspector Chris Hatton said:
“Peter Mawson knew the clear panels on the roof weren’t safe to walk on but neither he nor his company provided any equipment to prevent workers falling to their death. If scaffolding or netting had been fitted under the fragile panels, or covers had been fitted over them, then Jason would still be here today.”
The company pleaded guilty to a breach of the Act and to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The total fine imposed was £220,000, £200,000 of which was for the offence under the Act. The owner of the company was separately sentenced to a number of penalties including eight months in prison (suspended for 2 years), 200 hours of unpaid work and costs of £31,504.77.
This case demonstrates the importance of ensuring work at height is properly planned and that all practical precautions are taken. More generally, it is also a reminder to companies and other organisations of the potential impact of the Act and the importance of ensuring that management systems (specifically the way in which activities are managed and organised by senior management) are kept under review.
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Reviewed in 2015