Figures published by the Health and Safety Executive show that two manslaughter prosecutions, brought before the Crown Prosecution Service last year, led to convictions.
Details of the successful cases, which concerned a fatal accident during demolition work and the death of an employee who had been lifted on the forks of a fork lift truck, were published in the HSE’s recent ‘Health and safety offences and penalties’ report.
According to the document, the HSE investigated 21 cases during the 1999/2000 period, which were all referred to the CPS, by the police. Prosecution proceedings began in four of the cases, with two leading to manslaughter.
The report, which named and shamed up to 1,600 employers convicted of health and safety offences, welcomed the proposed new corporate killing offence, issued as a consultation document back in May, which would make it easier to prosecute companies for deaths caused by their negligence. Some of the big private sector names on the list include Smith and Nephew, Zeneca, Whitbread and Gardner Merchant Healthcare Services. Public sector listings include Lambeth Borough Council and Leicester and Rutland Healthcare NHS Trust.
Under the proposals, companies would be guilty of corporate killing where ‘management failure’ has resulted in death and the company’s conduct is judged to have fallen far below expectations.
The law changes would be welcome news for the construction sector, which has one of the worst accident and health records of any UK industry, with an estimated 30,000 musculo-skeletal injuries caused through work each year.
by Helen Gilbert