6th Conviction for corporate manslaughter – and indication of likely penalties
The latest corporate manslaughter conviction has followed from the death of a worker at a street cleaning company who was crushed by the hopper of a road sweeping vehicle during a maintenance procedure. A prop, designed the take the hopper’s weight when in the tipping position, could not be used as it had rusted. Accordingly, when a loss of hydraulic pressure caused the hopper of more than half a ton to fall onto the worker, he was crushed to death.
The company, Mobile Sweepers (Reading), pleaded guilty. The company’s director, who was also prosecuted, also pleaded guilty.
The company was fined £8,000 and £4,000 costs. This is the lowest penalty to date, but the reason for this was that the company ceased trading after the incident, and only had assets of £12,000. A Publicity Order was also made requiring the conviction to be published in local newspapers.
However, the Judge commented that if the Defendant had been a large firm with considerable assets, the penalty would have been at the upper end of the scale, between £500,000 – £1 million.
The director was fined £183,000. His sentence was reduced by a third for a guilty plea. He admitted breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act by virtue of Section 37 of the Act, which relates to the acts of company directors. He was disqualified from being a company director for five years.
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