The immediate and underlying causes of the accident
- The major cause of this unfortunate incident is the negligence of the company management. The company shouldhave conducted a wholesome safety assessment that must have included all probable risks. Had this been the case, the manager would not have allowed Brian to deal with the pump who had no expertise in it. Had the health and safety policy of the company considered all risks, this incident would not have happened.
- Furthermore, the manager of the office in which Richard died, had not received health and safety training, which makes her unfit to handle logistics to dealwith health and safety. This could be an indication that other managers are also not trained, which is a serious concern for the company. Concerning the safety of the employees of the company, the office manager is directly responsible for the incident. The office manager has shown her negligence in failing to manage properly the employees in the office. The company management should take all the blame for this unfortunate incident.
- The health and safety policy of the company is very weak, in that it does not capture all the legal requirements of the law, according to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The act provides that employeesbe not required to be assigned tasks for which they do not have appropriate skills and competencies to handle. In this case, Brian was assigned the duty of operating a pump despite the fact that he did not have the required skills. His failure to read the instructions on the pump before using it is the result of him being not trained in operating it. Furthermore, the general principles of prevention, which are provided in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, were not followed in developing the company’s health and safety policies. Therefore, the root cause of the problem is the negligence of the company management, in that it failed to initiate a complete and wholesome health and safety policy. The management failed to follow all the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The act provides that no employee shall be given a task beyond her or his competencies or physical ability.
- Another cause of this unfortunate incident is the failure of the company to train its employees on health and safety information inscribed in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The case would have been different had the employees been thus trained. Brian wouldnot have started the pump without checking on the instructions to see what was required of him. The same case is with the manager of the office where Richard died. In her case, she had no health and safety training and hence, she should not have taken it upon herself to manage the clearing of the water without health and safety considerations. She should have consulted from her senior, even though he was on holiday. From the witnesses account, the regional manager had undertaken some training in health and safety, and he could have advised appropriately if he was
However, according to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Brian could easily escape any charges because the act provides that an employer should make provisions and arrangements that are appropriate to the employee’s skills and competencies.The employer is required to ensure that there is effective planning in organization, monitoring and controlling of all the review and preventive actions to ensure the health and safety of his employees.
However, notwithstanding all the negligence that marred the case, the individual with the instruction on how the pump should be operated, was held. Owing to this, the manager and the employee, who were assigned to operate the pump, could easily be charged with gross negligence resulting in manslaughter. Brian could be charged with manslaughter because both murder and manslaughter have the same foundations; recklessness or negligence that leads to death in both cases.
Recommendations to Prevent a Recurrence
- Primarily, in order to avoid further recurrence of this unfortunate incident, the health and safety policy of the company should be thoroughly revised to include all the statutory standings of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.Furthermore, all the employees should receive a health and safety training, including the managers and the administrators. The training will help employees to:
- Be able to detect any shortcoming concerninghealth and safety preparation.
- Immediately report situations thatinvolve risk
- Use any machinery equipment in the work places according to the instructions given during the
- Able totake care of their individual health and safety and those associated with them who may be affected by their actions.
- The following additions should be madeto the risk assessment form of the company as control measures:
- No employee shall be assigned a task for which they are not trained.
- No single employee shall be left in the office after working hours.
- More than oneemployee should be present when technical work is being carried out in the work place.
- All machines should be thoroughly investigated, and their warning taken seriously.
- All employees should be trained on how to handle portable machines for common duties, which may be required in the work place from time to time.
- According to the health and safety laws of the UK, employees have right to work in environments that are safe and sufficiently manned. Employers must be encouraged to verse themselves with knowledge on their health and safety provisions while at work. The employers should use the following:
- Know what can cause them harm while working and take enough precautions to stop it.
- Should be able to elaborate how risks can be controlled, and identify who is responsible for this.
- Confide and work with safety and health professionals in order to protect everyone from danger while at the workplace.
Legal duties of the Company and individuals involved in relation to this accident
- Firstly, according to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, employees can claim the employer of damages done to them, whereby they havefrom injuries or sicknesses. In the case discussed above, the employer breached the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to train all his employees on their health and safety. In such a case, employees can bring accusations against the company for breach of their duties provided in the 1999 Regulations that led to the death of one of them.
- Therefore, the company first has a responsibility to take care of their employees and to cover them against any harm or danger as far as their health and safety is concerned.As such, in relation to this incident, the company has the following legal duties:
- To cover the family of Richard against his death, according to the Health and Safety regulations of 1999
- The company should take full responsibility of the unfortunate incident and advise all its stakeholders on what has happened.
- The company should ensure that all employees are trained on occupational health and safety while on duty. The company should make sure that all new employees have this training as a requirement.
- The persons directly involved in this incident are the manager of the office where Richard worked and the employee who was operating the pump. They will have to be charged legally depending on their level of guilt. The manager will be charged with negligence in undertaking her duties, in that she assigned an employee to do a task for which he was not trained. On the other hand, the employee will be charged with manslaughter culminating fromgross negligence. The course shall be carried out by due process of law and they, if found guilty, will have to take all the responsibility for the incident.
My opinion on whether the company has complied with their legal obligations
In my view, the company has not complied with the legal obligations on the health and safety of its employees. In case they had complied, the manager of the office where Richard died would not have assigned the task of operating the pump to Brian, who did not have any skills or competencies of operating it. Furthermore, if the company had complied with all the legal obligations of the health and safety of its employees, Brian himself would not have accepted to carry out a duty for which he knew he was not competent. In summary, the company has all the reasons to be blamed for this unfortunate incident, although the individuals involved can still be charged with negligence cases.
Prospect of prosecution of individuals and the consequences
There is a possibility that some individuals in the company can be prosecuted for negligence. The CEO of the company can be prosecuted, as well as the individuals who were directly involved in the office prior to Richard’s death. The consequences of prosecution in this case will be determined by the court findings. If the court finds that the company was responsible for the death of Richard, the court may decide to halt the activities of the company. However, depending on the evidence that shall be accrued in the trial, the court may decide to charge the individuals associated with negligence, but not the company. Notwithstanding this, the company will be required to comply with all the HSE requirements, failure to which it will be operating illegally; against the requirements of the law concerning health and safety of employees.
My opinion on the likely outcome of any HSE / police investigations
Police investigations may not yield much evidence, as the issue involved here has to do with negligence of health and safety principles. Therefore, the investigation results will largely be associated with health and safety shortcomings that have more to do with HSE investigations than with police investigations. Of course, HSE investigations will reveal gross negligence from the company itself, and more specifically with the individuals who were directly involved in the unfortunate incident.
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