Criminal Cases

Aus – Jun 2017 – “A major Gippsland company specialising in vegetable growing, processing and distribution was convicted and fined $85,000 for two separate incidents in which one worker was run over by a tractor attachment and another fell into an uncovered drainage pit.  Covino Farms Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Latrobe Magistrates Court yesterday to two breaches of the OHS Act 2004 for failing to provide and maintain safe systems of work. It was also ordered to pay costs of $22,933.  The two incidents occurred at the company’s Longford farm near Sale in East Gippsland.”

Canada – Mar 2017 – “A company that provided security services for Oshawa City Hall has been fined $70,000 for failing to comply with orders to develop workplace harassment and violence prevention programs for its workers.”

UK – Feb 2017 – “Bus company Go Ahead London has been sentenced after worker was killed when he fell from a ladder.  Southwark Crown Court heard on 26 May 2011 the worker was using a ladder to access the top of a fuel tank when he fell two and a half meters backwards, suffering fatal head injuries.  An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company did not implement and keep to their own procedures for managing contractors. As a result they failed to manage their contractors effectively and ensure that they conduct work in a safe manner.  Go Ahead London of 41-51 Grey Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne have been found guilty of section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £78,531.”

UK – Jan 2017 – “National car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover has been fined after a worker lost their leg following a car accident.  … The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the company had failed to ensure that the driver of the Range Rover, who was covering the shift, was familiar with procedures. They had also failed to properly separate the workers on the production line from the moving vehicles.  Jaguar Land Rover, were found guilty of breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and fined £900,000 and ordered to pay costs of £49,800.”

UK – Jan 2017 – “The University of Northumbria at Newcastle has been fined after two students fell seriously ill following a laboratory experiment. … Two of the volunteer students drank a solution with 100 times the amount that should have been taken as part of the experiment. They immediately suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, shaking and rapid heartbeat. They were rushed to hospital where their conditions were considered life threatening. Dialysis was required to rid their bodies of the excessive levels of caffeine.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the protocols set out for the experiment were not followed. The instructions were to use 200mg tablets but as they were not available the students were provided with caffeine in a powered form. This created a situation where the students miscalculated the amount of powder to use and overdosed the two volunteers.

University of Northumbria pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and were fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £26,468.22.”

Aus – Oct 2016 – Amusement park operator – failed to properly assess risks – passenger injured on ride that fell apart – $25,000 fine.

UK – Oct 2016 – Manufacturing company – worker crushed to death by falling machinery – improper training, improper planning of works – PG to breaching Reg 3(1) of Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety of Work etc Act 1974 – fined £1million for breaching Section 2, with full costs £6,311 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Aus – Oct 2016 – Not-for-profit company engaged in placing people into positions of employment with others – failure of company to liaise with external workplaces to which it sent workers, in relation to WHS issues as required by legislation – worker seriously injured (not an element of the offence) – “genuine contrition” –  $12,000 fine.

NZ – Sep 2016 – “Hamilton City Council has been ordered to pay reparations of $5,180 to each of zookeeper Samantha Kudeweh’s two children. Ms Kudeweh was killed by a tiger while working at Hamilton Zoo last year.  The Council was also ordered to pay fines of $38,250 after pleading guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Ms Kudeweh’s safety.” I have to say I hesitated to include this horrible case.  I’ve put it in because it serves to remind us of the severe limitations of criminal law to provide compensation, particularly in cases where the offender has limited means, and, therefore, the virtue of government-administered victims of crime compensation funds.

Aus – Sep 2016 – Three prosecutions by the Qld Electrical Safety Office

Canada – Sep 2016 – Accused acquitted of all charges – worker died in grain silo – no negligence established – training adequate – The Queen v Viterra Inc 2016 SKQB 269

NZ – Sep 2016 – “Rickie Shore Building Limited was fined $34,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $16,000 after pleading guilty to one charge under sections 6 and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.” An employee fell 2.9m through flooring, sustaining injuries. “A WorkSafe investigation found that Rickie Shore Building had failed to complete adequate planning and hazard assessment in relation to the victim’s work, which would have included assessing whether the sheets made a safe work platform and making sure that the sheets were installed in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.”

UK – Aug 2016 – PG to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulation 6(1)(a) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 – medicinal herbal manufacturing company – employee died after exposure to toxic gas –  fined £45000 plus costs.

NZ – Aug 2016 – PG to 1 charge under Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 – flooring company – ordered to pay fine and reparations. Employee suffered burns.

UK – Aug 2016 – PG to 2 charges under Regulations 27 and 29 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 –J G Hale Construction Ltd, a house building company – Magistrates’ Court prosecution by HSE – fined £100,000 plus costs.  No injuries; unannounced inspection identified serious potential fire safety hazards; multiple previous warnings.

UK – Aug 2016 – PG to 1 charge under Section 2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 -Essential Supply Products Limited – prosecuted in Magistrates’ Court by HSE – fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £2,714.10 in costs. Worker seriously injured.

UK – Aug 2016 – 2 security companies each PG to one offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (ss2(1) and 3(1)) – prosecuted in Magistrates’ Court by HSE – each was fined £8,000 with costs. A lone security staff member died from carbon monoxide poisoning when the heating cut out, and he lit barbecue coals to keep warm.  The employers were found to have failed to implement adequate emergency procedures and safeguards.

Aus – Jul 2016 – offender appealed against Magistrates’ Court sentence on basis of manifest excess – appeal dismissed – failure to secure ladder – worker fell and injured – $140,000 fine – B & J Finnigan Pty Ltd v Worksafe ACT [2016] ACTSC 158.

Infringement Notices

USA – June 2017 – “OSHA cited Cape Romain Contractors Inc. after discovering multiple safety and health violations during a scheduled inspection of a marine terminal construction site in Mount Pleasant, S.C. Inspectors found that workers faced overexposures to silica and noise due to a lack of respiratory protection and hearing conservation programs as well as engineering/administrative controls. Cape Romain was also cited for crane, electrical, and machine guarding hazards. Proposed penalties total $81,489.”

USA – Mar 2017 – OSHA – “OSHA initiated an inspection in August of Transaxle, a transmission recovery and remanufacturing firm in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, in response to an employee complaint in August. The inspection found repeat violations, including lack of proper machine guarding, hearing protection and training for lock-out, tag-out procedures. Transaxle was also cited for numerous serious violations, including open-sided platforms, electrical hazards, and lack of forklift training.”

USA – Dec 2016 – the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined a commercial laundry equipment manufacturer $124,709 for a ‘wilful’ safety violation, which had resulted in the amputation of an employee’s fingertip.  The OSHA has previously fined the same company, in July 2016 and August 2015, also for safety violations that resulted in amputations of employee body parts.

USA – Dec 2016 – the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined a hospital, Universal Health Services of Doylestown Inc, $37,000 for multiple serious OHS offences, including a number of failures to train, and a failure to provide protective equipment to staff.  Citations available to view here.

USA – Nov 2016 – “the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations for three willful and two serious safety violations.” – “A&W Roofing was cited in 2014, 2015 and 2016 for similar violations at work sites in Ohio.” – fines total $307,824

Civil Cases


Administrative Actions

US – April 2017 – “The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Wells Fargo Bank N.A. to compensate and immediately reinstate a former bank manager who lost his job after reporting suspected fraudulent behavior to superiors and a bank ethics hotline.  The manager, who had previously received positive job performance appraisals, was abruptly dismissed from his position at a Wells Fargo branch in the Los Angeles area after he reported separate incidents of suspected bank, mail and wire fraud by two bankers under his supervision. He was told he had 90 days to find a new position at Wells Fargo, and when he was unsuccessful, he was terminated. He has been unable to find work in banking since his termination in 2010.”