Fleets have been given a stark reminder of the need to manage risk with the first conviction under new corporate manslaughter legislation.
Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings was convicted of the death of 27-year-old geologist Alex Wright, who died in September 2008 when a trench in which he was working collapsed.
As a result his employer has been fined £385,000, equating to 116% of the company’s annual turnover.
“This conviction and the penalty handed down by the court should make less safety conscious firms – both large and small – sit up and think,” said Roger Bibbings, RoSPA’s occupational safety adviser.
“Given that this first case involved a needless death in a smaller firm, we will not see the full potential of the law and its associated penalties until there is a successful prosecution of a larger organisation.
“But it should prompt those in senior positions in all types of organisation to check that their house is in order. Those who can reassure themselves that their health and safety management systems are effective have nothing to fear.”
The Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act came into force in April 2008 in order for prosecutions to be brought in the very worst cases resulting in work-related death.
David Faithful, lawyer for Essential Risk Consultancy, said: “Despite years of warnings, many companies are still woefully under-protected when it comes to managing driver risk.
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