Lion Steel Limited has become the third company in the United Kingdom to be found guilty under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2008. With the prosecution, Lion Steel has received the largest fine on record – £480,000 with additional costs of £84,000.
Last year, Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings became the first company to be convicted under the Act, receiving a fine of £385,000. In May this year, Northern Ireland based business JMW Farms Limited (Co. Armagh) was fined £187,500 plus £13,000 costs.
Lion Steel, a Cheshire-based storage manufacturer, pleaded guilty to the offence in relation to the death of 45-year-old employee Steven Berry, who suffered fatal injuries when he fell through a fragile roof panel at the firm’s site in 2008.
Under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2008, organisations can be punished and censured for culpable conduct that leads to a person’s death – including the failure of providing adequate Duty of Care to its employees.
Until recently, successful prosecutions under the older Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 would be met with fines much lower than those seen under the Corporate Manslaughter Act. The Sentencing Guidelines Council has stated that fines should be at least £500,000 and could actually reach millions. What’s more, custodial sentences for company directors are not ruled out.
Skyguard’s CEO, James Murray said “These recent cases have shown that it has become the authorities’ preferred punishment to prosecute under the much newer Corporate Manslaughter Act. Now we are beginning to see fines reaching the guideline amount set by the Sentencing Councils.”
“What is clear is that the Duty of Care to employees is more critical to organisations than ever before. If companies are found guilty of gross negligence, they can find themselves facing crippling fines and perhaps, in some cases, custodial sentences for those in charge!”
“For organisations employing those who work alone or in high-risk situations, it is even more imperative that they cover all aspects of Duty of Care towards their staff. Skyguard’s personal safety service is an ideal solution for not only providing 24 hour backup and support for lone working employees, but also helping to protect employers and their businesses from ruinous litigation, should the worst happen to one of their staff.”