Monavon Construction Ltd pleaded guilty to two counts of corporate manslaughter and a breach of the duty to non-employees under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The company was prosecuted after two men fell into a 3.7 metre light well that only had perimeter edge protection, rather than metal railings, fixed around it in October 2013. Both men died at the scene.
A new sentencing guideline for use by the courts in England and Wales in health and safety, corporate manslaughter and food safety and food hygiene cases came into force on 1 February 2016. The guideline is expected to ultimately lead to much higher fines for the largest companies convicted of the most serious regulatory breaches.
“In that context, a fine of this size in a case involving the death of two members of the public may seem quite modest, but what it really shows is the significance of a company’s turnover when courts apply the guidelines,” said health and safety expert Sean Elson of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.