Employer Sentenced for Manslaughter in Deaths of Workers

Brian Dean, of Stoke-on-Trent, Great Britain, was sentenced to 18 months in jail following his guilty conviction in the manslaughter of a father and son, Michael Redgate and Carl Redgate.

The case, which was tried in Stafford Crown Court in April, followed a joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Staffordshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Where there are deaths arising from work activities, the police and HSE work together. The police take the lead when there is an indication that a charge of manslaughter may be appropriate.

Michael Redgate, 46, and Carl Redgate, 18, were killed on July 23, 2000 while they were working for Brian Dean, Builders and Civil Engineers. They were demolishing a tunnel kiln at Daniel Platt Ltd., in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, when the kiln collapsed burying them both under tons of rubble.

Brian Dean was also charged with a violation of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide information instruction, training and supervision to ensure the health and safety of Michael and Carl Redgate. The charge was not pursued because of the successful conviction of the defendant for manslaughter.

Daniel Platt Ltd. pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two charges under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 for failing to appoint a planning supervisor and failing to ensure a health and safety plan has been prepared. Daniel Platt Ltd were fined a total of £125,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulation 1994 imposes duties on a number of parties, including the client who commissions the work. The duties include ensuring a planning supervisor is appointed and that work does not begin until a health and safety plan has been prepared. Clients are also required to satisfy themselves that the contractors they employ are competent and adequately resources to carry out their duties under the regulations.

"The law that I enforce requires demolition to be under the direct control of a competent person, experienced in that sort of work. If that had been done Carl and Michael would be alive today. They and Brian Dean would be at home with their families tonight. It is important to understand that if you are in charge of work activities and someone is killed, you could be on trial for manslaughter," said Dave Boulton, the HSE investigating inspector involved with the case.

Joy Jones, HM Principal Inspector for Construction in Staffordshire, said HSE has set up a new construction division to tackle "the unacceptable toll of death and major injuries on Britain's construction sites." She said the government plans a number of approaches to address the problems within the industry. "Both clients who commission construction work and contractors have duties under health and safety law and we will take enforcement action when serious deficiencies are found whether anyone has been injured or not," she added.

There were 114 fatal injuries in the construction industry between Aril 1, 2000 and March 31, 2001, eight of which occurred to members of the public. An additional 5,046 people suffered major injuries, 317 of whom were members of the public. Nearly 10,000 construction workers suffered injuries that kept them off work for more than three days.

Seventeen percent of fatal injuries to construction workers in the UK between April 1, 2000 and March 31, 2001 were caused by something collapsing/overturning.

HSE's new national Construction Division created four new regional construction units with their own heads who will report directly to the chief inspector. The new units are London, East and South East; Yorkshire and the East Midlands; Scotland and the North of England; and Wales, South West and West Midlands.

The construction industry committed to improving its health and safety performance, and set the following targets:

  • To reduce the incidence rate of fatalities and major injuries by 40 percent by 2004-2005 and 66 percent by 2009-2010;
  • To reduce the incidence rate of cases of work-related ill health by 20 percent by 2004-2005 and 50 percent by 20092010;
  • To reduce the number of working days lost from work-related injury and ill health by 20 percent by 2004-2005 and by 50 percent by 2009-2010.
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