A welding firm has been fined £450,000 plus costs for fatigue management failures that resulted in the deaths of two of its workers.
Renown Consultants Limited was sentenced by HHJ Godsmark at Nottingham Crown Court on 13 May following a prosecution by the Office of Rail and Road.
The sentencing concludes a seven-year long case. Zac Payne, 20, and Michael Morris, 48, died on 19 June 2013 while traveling in a company van back to Doncaster after a night shift in Stevenage in the early hours of the morning and crashed into a parked articulated lorry.
ORR said this marked the first time it has prosecuted for failures of fatigue management.
Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways said: “We welcome the sentence which shows the seriousness with which the court has taken this tragic case and shows the fatal consequences that can occur when fatigue policies are disregarded.
“We hope this has acted as a reminder to companies that fatigue policies should be enforced.”
His Honour Judge Godsmark, passing the sentence virtually, said: “Operations and managers knew what they were supposed to do in relation to fatigue but lip service was paid to these systems. Senior operations cut corners and I found blindness at Doncaster in relation to people driving to and from jobs.”
Renown was fined with costs of £300,000 for breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Kevin Bridges, partner at Pinsent Masons law firm, and Fiona Cameron, lawyer, said this marks the first prosecution of its kind by a UK health and safety regulator.
Writing for Pinsent Masons' "out-law" news website, they commented that other cases have been focused on “more obvious operational failures” by defendants.
The lawyers said the case sets a precedent for regulators to prosecute solely on the basis of welfare management issues – such as fatigue, wellbeing and mental health and that regulators will give these greater scrutiny: “This leaves the door open for charges to be laid.”
Pinsent Masons comment here
Renown fine here
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