MOD receives third HSE Crown Censure in 12 months after agency driver killed by reversing vehicle

As HR and Health and Safety experts know only too well, breaches in health and safety law could result in the company being charged with Corporate Manslaughter where an employee is fatally injured as a result of that breach.

However, as a Crown body, the MoD cannot face prosecution for breaches in health and safety law as the Crown is exempt under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act.

When their standards fail, a Crown Censure is the maximum sanction the HSE can bring, and it is issued when, but for Crown immunity, there would have been sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in the courts.


Third Crown Censure for MOD in 12 months

The Ministry of Defence has already received two Crown Censures over a 12 month period, one in March 2016 over the death in 2013 of three army reservists on an SAS selection exercise in the Brecon Beacons in Wales and the second followed the death of Fusilier Dean Griffiths, 21, who was shot in 2011 during a understaffed and poorly organised live firing exercise at the Lydd Ranges firing range in Kent.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has now been issued with it’s third Crown Censure after an agency driver working for the MoD, was fatally injured by a reversing vehicle.


MOD failed to assess the risks created by large vehicle movements

Mr Graham Wood, 55, of Bicester, Oxfordshire, was crushed between a reversing lorry and a stationary vehicle on the evening of 19 November 2013. Mr Wood, who worked for agency Pertemps and a colleague were delivering goods to a large holding area in MoD Kineton, Southam, Warwickshire.

The HSE investigation into Mr. Wood’s death found the MoD failed to assess the risks created by the movement of large vehicles in the area. They failed to ensure a safe system of work was in place to identify and control the risks presented by the movement of large vehicles in this area.

Pertemps managing director Steve West said after the incident:

“Our condolences go out to the family of Mr Woods, who have our deepest sympathies at this very sad time.  Graham worked for Pertemps for over four years, during which time he was a valued and diligent member of our flexible workforce. I am sure he will be deeply missed by all of his friends and family.”


‘Like any other employer, MOD has a responsibility to reduce dangers’

After delivering the latest Crown Censure, Jane Lassey, HSE’s deputy director of field operations said:

“The risks arising from vehicle movements are well known and suitable measures required to reduce these risks are understood.  Like any other employer, the MoD has a responsibility to reduce dangers to agency workers, as well as their own employees, on their sites as far as they properly can, and in this case they failed Graham Wood.”

By accepting the Crown Censure, the MoD admitted breaching its duty under Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in that they exposed their employees and those not directly employed by MoD, to risks to their health, safety and welfare. Those risks manifested themselves in a lack of a safe system of work.

Following the incident, a safe system of work including marked parking bays, well defined walkways for pedestrians and a one way system has been introduced.


MP: ‘Lives of serving personnel worth no less than those of civilians’

A House of Commons Defence Select Committee previously called for the military exemption in the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act be reversed, allowing the MoD to be charged as a corporate body, saying that armed forces personnel should hold equal value to civilians.

Chair of the Sub-Committee, Mrs Madeleine Moon MP, said:

“In general the Armed Forces take very seriously the risks associated with the way it trains for war fighting – but there have been a small number of serious yet avoidable failings in training safety and risk assessment which need to be addressed. So where a Crown Censure has been issued, it should be possible to prosecute the MoD. The lives of serving personnel are worth no less than those of civilians and those responsible for their deaths must be equally liable under the law.”

However, the government rejected the recommendations in July 2016.  Ms. Moon said  she was “disappointed” that the government rejected its “modest proposals”.

“We continue to believe that these proposals would have improved accountability in these matters. This is not the end of our interest and we intend to pursue these matters with the MoD in the coming months,” she added.

The latest Crown Censure will add weight to the debate.







Author: Editorial Team

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