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  • Writer's pictureRobert Spicer

More recent health and safety prosecutions

James Atkins and Trevor Atkins have been convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after a woman was electrocuted. In 2017 Deana Simpson was electrocuted while using a cooker in a caravan which she shared with James Atkins at a farm near Rugby. The farm was owned by Trevor Atkins, the father of James. Following the incident, an electrician examined the installation at the caravan. He found that it was in a poor and dangerous condition with an immediately obvious potential for electric shock. There were poor and inadequate connections, inadequate earthing and no protective devices in place.

The generator which supplied the caravan had been modified by James Atkins who was not a qualified electrician. Trevor Atkins had been complicit with the work carried out by his son. As an employer, he had a duty to maintain the electrical system in the caravan to ensure that it was not dangerous. He also had a duty towards the deceased to ensure that she was not exposed to risks to her safety. He had breached those duties.

James Atkins was sentenced to six years and six months imprisonment for gross negligence manslaughter. Trevor Atkins was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for two years.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that it highlighted the severe risks which could arise when farm equipment and buildings were poorly maintained.

Nestle UK has been fined following an incident in which a worker suffered serious arm injuries.

In February 2016 a technical operator employed by the company was observing the operation of the After Eight production machine at its site in Halifax. He placed his right hand close to a gap in the machine housing. He was holding an emery cloth, which was dragged into the machine with his arm. He was unable to reach any of the emergency stop buttons from the position in which he was trapped. He was released from the machine by paramedics and suffered a double compound fracture of his arm. The company had failed to prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the machine. There was a gap large enough to allow access to the machine. The company was fined £640,000 plus £26,000 costs.

Siamak Samyani, the sole director of SS Reforms Ltd, a construction company, has been sentenced following an incident in which a worker suffered serious crush injuries.

In April 2019 subcontractors engaged by the company were moving plasterboard sheets from the ground floor to the second floor of a house which was being refurbished. Each board weighed 32kg. There was no staircase and the workers slid the boards up an unsecured ladder. The boards fell onto a worker. He suffered a fractured pelvis. There was no safe system of work in place. Workers were not adequately supervised. The stairwell openings in the house were not guarded and were partially spanned with scaffold boards which rested on insecure scaffold boards which created a significant fall risk.

Samyani was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months, fined £3400 and ordered to pay £600 costs.

An HSE inspector commented that this had been a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the director to devise and implement a suitable system of work.

London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council has been fined following the death of a child in a playground.

In July 2015 a five-year old girl was swinging on a rope attached to a wooden post at Mile End Park. The post snapped at its base and fell onto her, causing fatal head injuries.The Council had previously put in place a system of inspections to ensure that play equipment was safe. The equipment at Mile End Park had not been inspected since 2013. If the equipment had been inspected and tested for signs of rot, the risk might have been identified and appropriate action taken to remove and replace the equipment.

The local authority was fined £330,000 plus £6200 costs.

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