Corporate Manslaughter - Tick box to Compliance

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Corporate Manslaughter – Tick box to Compliance.  


A building firm “Peter Mawson Limited” and its owner were sentenced on the 3rd February 2015 by Preston Crown Court, following a tragic but avoidable incident in 2011 where a man died.


Peter Mawson Limited was fined £200,000 after pleading guilty to a charge of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007, and £20,000 to a charge of failing to ensure the safety of his employees under the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974.  Owner of the company, Peter Mawson also pleaded guilty to a the same breach under the 1974 Act and was sentenced today to; eight months imprisonment – suspended for 2 years; 200 hours unpaid work; a publicity order to advertise what happened on the company website and in the local newspaper; and ordered to pay costs of £31,504.77.


On Tuesday 25 October 2011, emergency services attended West Cumberland Farmers Limited, Ulverston, following a report that a man had fallen through a roof.  The 42 year old employee had fallen through the skylight from a height of approximately 7.6 meters onto a concrete floor. He was taken to Furness General Hospital where he died a short time later.  Chris Hatton, the investigating inspector at HSE, added:


“Jason tragically lost his life because the company that employed him did nothing to make sure he was safe while he worked on a fragile roof. 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 Implications of this case to Care Providers and Those who teach within the Care Sector… 


The implications are pretty apparent.  If someone dies as a result of an organisation failing to provide the staff with adequate safety equipment and / or training that is fit for purpose then it leaves that company wide open to a corporate manslaughter prosecution.

Corporate and Personal Manslaughter: Where the Offence is – Let the Great Axe Fall


On 6th June 2000, Anthony Scrivener QC delivered a seminar entitled ‘Corporate and Personal Manslaughter: Where the Offence is – Let the Great Axe Fall’.  He began with the following opening statement:


”Although in this short address I will refer to the Government’s new proposals for corporate manslaughter I would wish to drive home a clear message to all of those involved in the management of companies. Even without these reforms there is an unstoppable movement towards using the full force of the criminal law against companies and executives forming the management of companies where death or injury is caused by serious negligence. They are out to get you and that is the clear message you should take back with you from this meeting to your boardroom. If you ignore the trend then you do so at you peril.”


Nearly fifteen years on,  the words of Anthony Scrivener QC have come true.  The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is now a part of UK Law. Its aim is to make companies more accountable, by ensuring they are easily brought to justice, where death occurs in the workplace.


Corporate Manslaughter Cases Up 40% in One Year


According to figures released in 2013, the number of new corporate manslaughter cases brought by the Crown Prosecution Services has spiked by 40% in a year.  However, it seems clear that unfortunately, care providers and training companies are still failing to provide “fit for purpose” training that is legally defensible and aligned to CQC requirements.  This is a time bomb waiting to go off.  Don’t for a minute think that they wouldn’t come after you if someone dies as a result of poor training, delivered by unqualified trainers, in the shortest possible time to just “tick the box”.


Our advice is move away from a “tick box culture” and sample quality training delivered by highly qualified and experienced subject matters that is legally defensible and evidenced based.  Contact Guardian Angels Training today to discuss your training requirements.

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