• Robert Spicer

Corporate manslaughter prosecution

R v Lion Steel Equipment Ltd (2012) Manchester Crown Court, July 20

In May 2008 Steven Berry, an employee of Lion Steel, a company which manufactures steel stoarge cabinets, suffered fatal injuries when he fell through a fragile roof panel at the company’s factory in Hyde, Manchester. He had gone onto the factory roof to investigate a water leak when he stepped onto a skylight, falling 13 metres.He had not been provided with adequate fall arrest equipment and crawling boards and had not been given any training on roof work. The company’s insurers had carried out a number of risk surveys which meant that its directors should have been aware that there were inadequate procedures for accessing the roof.

Three of the company’s directors had originally been charged, as individuals, with gross negligence manslaughter and offences under the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974. At the close of the prosecution case, the Crwon Court judge ruled that there was no case to answer is respect of these individual charges.

Lion Steel Equipment Ltd was fined £480,000 for corporate manslaughter. The judge stated that this represented a 20 per cent reduction in recognition of factors such as the company’s guilty plea and its financial position. He had also taken into account the risk of endangering the jobs of the 142 employees of the company. The company was ordered to pay the fine in four instalments by 2015 and was ordered to pay £84,000 costs.

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