Assessing the risk of employing young persons and corporate responsibilities of directors

A Director of an engineering company jailed for eight months resulting in a death of a young person and disqualified from working as a company director for 10 years.

The other Director of the recruitment company that placed the young person within the company was given a suspended sentence of four months in prison and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community work. He was also given a £3,000 fine and failing to ensure the health and safety of a person other than an employee and was fined £75,000.

Both men were found guilty of failure of a director or senior supervisor in their duty to provide appropriate health and safety measures which resulted in his death.

The company was found guilty of corporate manslaughter and failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and was fined £150,000.

What went wrong?

The apprentice was operating computerised numeric lathe, unsupervised

Not given any appropriate training.

He was instructed to perform a task which involved him putting his arm inside the machine whilst it was running, which was made possible due to the safety lock on the machine door being disabled.

This resulted in the young person getting pulled into the machine and sustaining severe injuries to his head and face causing his death. Both the Employer and the recruitment agency failed in their duty of care.

Learning Lessons

Adequate supervision to be given to young persons as they may not appreciate the risk that they are undertaking.

Both the Recruitment agency together with the employers should have given appropriate training.

Why has the young person instructed to put his arm inside the machine?

Why was the guarding on the machine disabled?

Was this operation accepted as common practice?

When employing young persons an extra duty of care is implied as they may not appreciate the risk involved in the working environment. It is essential that prior to commencing the task that adequate training should have given by both the recruitment agency and the employer. It must never be common practice that the young person be allowed to put his arm inside the machine, without any guarding in place?

Some Legal failures

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

2 (a) The provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health

2 (c) The provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees;

2 (d) So far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks;

2 (e) The provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.

Under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

An offence will be committed where failings by an organisation’s senior management are a substantial element in any gross breach of the duty of care owed to the organisation’s employees or members of the public, which results in death.


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