A pig firm has been fined £187,500 after it became the first company to be convicted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act in Northern Ireland. The successful prosecution highlights the duty of care organisations now have to make sure all employees are fully aware of their responsibilities under the act.
The Act, which came into force in 2008, means that for the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care with regard to health and safety measure
To fully meet the requirements of the Act, companies and organisations are advised to take their health and safety procedures seriously and monitor their implementation. In particular, the way in which their activities are managed or organised by senior management.
Louis Burns, acting deputy chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive, said: “This case highlights the importance of managing health and safety in the workplace and demonstrates the terrible consequences of not doing so.
“The judgement sends a clear message to the directors in Northern Ireland, whether of a small or large organisation, that they should take health and safety seriously.
“This new corporate manslaughter legislation clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality.”
The only firm convicted of the offence in England so far is Cotswold Geotechnical (Holdings) which was found guilty after a trial in 2011 and fined £385,000 over the death of junior geologist Alexander Wright.
One other company, Lion Steel Equipment, has so far been charged under the legislation in England. This case is due to go to trial later this year.