3 years for gross negligence manslaughter

Workplace Law has reported on a company director, Mr Allan Turnbull being sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for gross negligence manslaughter following the death of a worker at Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend, Newcastle.  Mr Joyce was working from one cherry picker whilst two colleagues were working from a second. Together they were dismantling a structure and using a crane to lower the steel beams to the ground. Unfortunately, a plate girder struck the basket containing Mr Joyce and toppled the cherry picker over. Mr Joyce fell to the ground, suffered serious head injuries and was pronounced dead soon after.

Jurors at the Court were told that a catalogue of health and safety failings led to Mr Joyce’s death, including the fact that Mr Turnbull did not undertake a specific risk assessment.

It was also heard that there was a failure to identify the risks of the job and that there was a risk of death and he failed to take advice from a competent person.

Prosecutors stated that Mr Joyce’s death could have been avoided if a safe system of work had been established and followed.

Prosecutor, Richard Matthews QC, said:

“It was high hazard work that required careful planning and close supervision by someone who knew what they were doing.

“There was an obvious risk of death arising from these activities.”

In addition to the prison sentence given to Allan Turnbull, it was revealed that Christopher Taylor, one of two directors of North Eastern Maritime Offshore Cluster Ltd (NEMOC), was convicted of one count of consenting to, or conniving at, the failure to discharge a duty under section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and one count of consenting to, or conniving at, the failure to discharge a duty under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Taylor was fined £30,000 in total and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs.

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