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The Crown Prosecution Service has charged a Norfolk plant nursery under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 following the death of an employee.
Grzegorz Krystian Pieton was electrocuted and died on 15 July 2010 when the metal hydraulic-lift trailer he was towing came into contact with an overhead power line. This tragic incident occurred at Belmont Nursery, in Terrington St Clement. The nursery is operated by PS & JE Ward Ltd, a small company with less than 50 employees and a reported turnover of £4,277,310 in 2010.
After the incident, an investigation was initiated by the HSE and the company was issued with three Prohibition Notices and one Improvement Notice which were all complied with. After reviewing the evidence, the CPS confirmed that there was sufficient evidence to charge the company with corporate manslaughter and for failing to ensure the safety of employees under S.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The company was summonsed to appear at a first hearing at King's Lynn Magistrates' Court on 23 November 2012 and it is understood that the case was remitted to Norwich Crown Court for a hearing on 7 December 2012.
PS & JE Ward is the fourth UK company to face a charge of corporate manslaughter since the legislation came into force in April 2008. The first to be prosecuted under the Act was Cotswold Geotech, convicted in February 2011. JMW Farms was the first company to be convicted under the Act in Northern Ireland after it pleaded guilty to the charge. In July 2012, Lion Steel was fined £480,000 following a fatal fall from height of one of its employees, who fell through a roof while carrying out repairs.
There has been the expectation that the legislation will be tested out on larger and more complex corporate entities but for now, it seems that companies of all sizes are within the sights of the CPS.
A further update on the case will follow in due course.
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