Company Director Jailed for 12 Months following Worker's Death

Sep 08, 2016
A company director has been sentenced to 12 months in prison following the death of one of his employees.  

Paul Williamson died on 29 January 2014 when a remote controlled Mobil Elevated Working Platform (MEWP) he was loading on to a truck fell from the ramps and crushed him. The prosecution alleged that Mr Williamson had not been adequately trained on the use of ramps, the lorry and the MEWP. There had been no risk assessment and no safe system of work had been created for the equipment. The investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the gradient of ramps were above the limit specified by the manufacturer and were not secured to the lorry.  

Company director, Kenneth Thelwall, was charged under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay costs of £4,000. He was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years.  

The company, Thom Warehousing Ltd, was charged under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was subsequently fined  £166,000 and ordered to pay £10,400 costs. The company is presently in administration.  

The case serves to underline to company directors that they are personally responsible to protect their worker’s health and safety. According to the Health and Safety Executives policy on enforcement:

"Prosecution is intended to bring home to Directors/Managers the extent of their responsibilities, and to bring them to public account for their failings where appropriate. Therefore prosecution should be seen by others, particularly by other Directors/Managers with knowledge of the industry concerned, as justified not only in legal terms but also as a matter of practical judgement"

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