At Luton Crown Court, the sole owner and director (‘the director’) of a construction company (‘the company’) was sentenced to eight months in custody after pleading guilty to breaching Health & Safety Regulations resulting in the deaths of two brothers.
Amandeep Murria of Kangs Solicitors sets out the circumstances.
The Circumstances | Kangs Solicitors Health and Safety Team
The Court heard that on the 3rd October 2015, the two brothers and another were employed by the company as labourers to refurbish several units in an Industrial Park.
An explosive fire occurred within one of the units burning all three men.
The two brothers died as a result of their injuries and the third male, who survived, was severely burned.
A joint investigation undertaken by the Local Constabulary and The Health & Safety Executive investigation revealed that the labourers had been supplied with highly flammable thinners which were used to remove old dried carpet adhesive and in so doing the director had failed in his duties to properly assess the risks posed to the labourers whilst using the thinners which subsequently ignited.
The Relevant Law | Kangs Regulatory Law Advisors
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (‘the Act’) provides:
3 General duties of employers and self-employed to persons other than their employees.
(1) It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.
(2) It shall be the duty of every self-employed person who conducts an undertaking of a prescribed description to conduct the undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.
(2A) A description of undertaking included in regulations under subsection (2) may be framed by reference to—
(a) the type of activities carried out by the undertaking, where those activities are carried out or any other feature of the undertaking;
(b) whether persons who may be affected by the conduct of the undertaking, other than the self-employed person (or his employees), may thereby be exposed to risks to their health or safety.
(3) In such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person, in the prescribed circumstances and in the prescribed manner, to give to persons (not being his employees) who may be affected by the way in which he conducts his undertaking the prescribed information about such aspects of the way in which he conducts his undertaking as might affect their health or safety.
The Hearing | Kangs Health and Safety Lawyers
The director pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3 (1) of the Act and was sentenced to eight months custody and ordered to pay a victim surcharge.
An Inspector from the Health & Safety Executive, Paul Hoskins was quoted as saying:
“The risks of using highly flammable liquids are well known and employers should make sure they properly assess the risks from such substances and use safer alternatives where possible. Where the use of flammable solvents is unavoidable, then the method and environment must be strictly controlled to prevent any ignition “.
How Can We Help? | Kangs Health and Safety Solicitors
Our specialist solicitors are able to provide advice and assistance throughout the entire criminal process, from the initial intervention by the Health and Safety Executive through to enforcement, interview under caution and ultimately the defence of any ensuing criminal prosecution.
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