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Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007- First case in court this week

February 26th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Further to our recent posts that highlight the need for companies to implement procedures such as brake testing and tyre pressure monitoring on a regular basis if they’re to avoid prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007. This week (Tuesday 23rd February) sees the start of the trial of a company director accused of unlawful killing through gross negligence.  Potentially seeing the first person to be convicted under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007, which came into force in April 2008

The case is regarding geologist, Alexander Wright, of Cheltenham, who was killed in September 2008 when the sides of the excavated pit he was working in collapsed on top of him. Mr. Eaton the company director is the first person to be prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007. He is charged with gross negligence manslaughter under the new Act, and with an offence contrary to Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.  It is not only Mr. Eaton that faces these charges, his company, Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings, has also been charged with failing to discharge a duty contrary to Section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

 If convicted the company director could face life imprisonment and a serious impact on his business with a maximum sentence for the firm being an unlimited fine.

These more stringent laws only emphasise how companies need to enforce and communicate their health and safety policies to their employees.  Any records that companies can keep of how they are proactively keeping their workforce safe can only be of benefit if they find themselves in these unfortunate circumstances.

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