Hazards Campaign statement following the sentencing of Cotswold Geotechnical Services in the first ever corporate manslaughter trial
Following the fine today of £385,000.00 (to be paid back over 10 years) on Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings after their conviction under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 for the death of employee Alexander Wright, 27, the Hazards Campaign said: “Alex’s death was sadly yet another example of a wholly predictable and preventable death and a clear example of gross negligence by an employer – yet no individual employer or director has been held to account and the only sanction has been a fine, which does not reflect the seriousness of the crime of taking a life. The Health and Safety Executive says over 70% of deaths and major injuries are caused by management failings, not freak accidents.
“A fundamental flaw with the new corporate manslaughter legislation is that it holds the company responsible, not the individual directors who make the decisions which lead to these disasters, and therefore no-one can be jailed, which is the appropriate sentence for taking a life by gross negligence. Currently, individual company directors can escape legal accountability and the only way to make them take protecting workers’ safety and health seriously is to implement a law making them legally responsible for the health and safety of their organisations.
“This case could easily have been taken against the company using our existing health and safety laws which would have allowed for a fine on conviction. The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is a damp squib with only this case against Geotech , a small company, since it came into force rather than the 12 or so a year that were predicted to hold large employers to account. Other giants, such as Corus, Veolia, BIFFA, BP and many others who have killed and maimed repeatedly, have never been charged with corporate manslaughter and few individual directors or senior manager has ever been called to answer manslaughter charges for the dangerous ways they run their businesses.
“The Hazards Campaign is also very concerned that current government attacks on health and safety law and swingeing cuts in the safety police, the Health and Safety Executive, will only make matters worse and more workers will be killed.”
For more information contact:
Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557