no embargo - 9 June 2008 ( Back to news releases)
Press Statement on Conviction of NW Aerosols
NW Aerosols Ltd were fined £2 plus £1 costs at Liverpool Crown Court on 4th June for health and safety offences which resulted in the death of Christopher Knoop and the severe injury of three others – Gray Brine, Kevin Armstrong and Graham Ryder.
None of the directors who ran NW Aerosol were in court and as they have put the company into voluntary liquidation, Judge Graham Morrow QC was only able to impose this “absurd and unreasonable fine” but he said if NW Aerosols Ltd was still trading, the starting point for a fine would have been £250,000, for what he aptly described as “an accident waiting to happen”.
FACK which held a vigil outside the court, supports Christel Stewart, the sister of Christopher Knoop, in condemning this outcome. FACK support families of those killed by employers’ negligence in trying to get some justice. FACK also campaigns for better law and much stricter enforcement and for charges, convictions and penalties in the courts which will act as real deterrents to prevent more needless deaths. (1)
The last word about the injustice of his case comes from Christel Stewart’s 7 year old son who said: “Does this mean that they killed uncle Chris for £3.00?”
A spokesperson for Families Against Corporate Killers
“FACK feels this was able to happen as there are no positive legal duties on directors to be responsible for the H&S in their companies: the legal duties to comply with H&S at work are on the company. In theory it is possible to charge directors under S37 of the HASAWA (2), and also with manslaughter, but the HSE found insufficient evidence for anything other than a charge for H&S offences against the company.
FACK does not think fines for H&S offences which kill workers or members of the public are a suitable punishment either for justice or for deterrence. Since FACK’s establishment in 2006, we have been campaigning for directors to be given positive legal duties to be responsible for the H&S in their organisations and if guilty of breaching them, to face a prison sentence. In 2001 in the government’s ‘Revitalising H&S Strategy’ there was a government commitment to implement such laws but since then we have had only voluntary codes of practice and guidance from the HSE (3). During the passage of the recently passed Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, FACK were promised by a Minister at the Home Office that such duties would be implemented separately. Instead, another set of voluntary guidance was issued last year.
“ FACK feel this case shows the need for Directors Duties very starkly. FACK feels that directors running a company and take the profit, have a moral and legal duty to comply with the law, protect workers, and to be held to account if they fail. We are calling on the government and the HSE to look urgently at the need to change the law to stop other workers being killed.”
For more information contact
1. FACK was launched
in July 2006 with the support of the Hazards Campaign. We have lobbied
parliament and ministers in Westminster and Edinburgh, over the need
for stricter laws on corporate killing, penalties which will be a real
deterrent plus much more enforcement BEFORE someone is killed. We have
spoken at many public meetings and conferences, including the CBI; launched
FACK at the STUC in Scotland; spoken at International Workers Memorial
Day events on 28th April in Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Manchester, Oldham,
Chorley, Liverpool and Preston. FACK leaflet and information available
on website www.fack.org.uk Tel 0161 636 7557 firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Under Section 37 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 If a health and safety offence is committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the organisation, then that person (as well as the organisation) can be prosecuted under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
H&S Strategy Statement June 2000 HSC, DETR
The Health and Safety Commission will also advise ministers on how the law would need to be changed to make these responsibilities statutory so that Directors and responsible person of similar status are clear about what is expected of them in their management of health and safety. It is the intention of Ministers, when Parliamentary time allows, to introduce legislation on these responsibilities.’
4. See Hazards Magazine deadly business pages for the background -
6. See Hazards
Campaign for latest
figures on those killed by work in GB – 1,500 -1,700 in incidents
like this one, and up to 50,000 due to occupational illnesses -