Calderdale Company Director Jailed for Corporate Manslaughter After Employee's Death

Friday 9 June 2023 

Hipperholme company fined and managing director jailed for corporate manslaughter after employee lost their life as a result of inadequate safety measures.

Andrew Tibbott

On Friday 14 April 2017, 48-year-old Andrew Tibbott was found deceased at his workplace Deco-Pak Limited in Hipperholme, Brighouse.

Andrew had worked at the company as a maintenance engineer for just under 6 weeks. On the day of his death, he was working alone on a powerful machine which had a robotic arm used to move gravel, stone, and other materials into bags on pallets for transportation.  

Andrew failed to return home after work on that Good Friday evening, his family was concerned about his whereabouts and went to his workplace to try and find him. They discovered him at the Deco-Pak site and called the ambulance service for assistance. Paramedics attended but unfortunately Andrew had died as a result of his injuries. He had been trapped in the machine and had suffered catastrophic crush injuries.

When the machinery was first installed, it had a number of safety features in place, including safety fencing and a system designed to disable the machine if anyone was to step inside the designated production area, causing it to automatically shut down.

The safety fencing was later removed to allow for unrestricted access to the machine for cleaning or maintenance, whilst in operation. A gate was installed around the machine without an adequate interlock mechanism and light barriers to sense movement in the restricted area were also in place but were found to be not working.

The company who had supplied Deco-Pak with the machinery had repeatedly warned management of the risks of danger these machines presented.

The company director had received a report two months before Andrew’s death highlighting the serious safety issues concerning the machinery.

Following an extensive investigation by West Yorkshire Police, supported throughout by HSE a trial took place at Leeds Crown Court in January 2022 which found Deco-Pak Limited guilty of Corporate Manslaughter and failing to discharge the employer’s general duty owed under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 contrary to Section 33 (1) (a) of the act.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict regarding managing director, Michael Hall and a re-trial took place in March 2023.

Michael Hall
Michael Hall

Michael Hall, 66, of Hullen Edge Lane, Elland, the company director at the time of the incident, was charged and pleaded guilty at the start of the first trial for the health and safety offence of failing to discharge the employer’s general duty owed under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 contrary to Section 33 (1) (a) and by virtue Section 37 (1) of the act.

Mr Hall was further charged and subsequently found guilty of the offence of manslaughter by gross negligence and guilty for the health and safety offence of failing to discharge the employer’s general duty owed under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 contrary to Section 33 (1) (a) and by virtue Section 37 (1) of the act at the re-trial which concluded on Monday 24 April 2023.

Today, Friday 9 June 2023, Michael Hall was sentenced to five years imprisonment and Deco Pak Limited were fined £700,000 and ordered to pay £90,000 in court costs.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Superintendent Nicola Bryar said:

“No family should go through what Andrew’s family did on that fateful evening in 2017. Our thoughts are with them and I would like to thank them for their maintained dignity throughout this lengthy investigation.

“I do hope they can take some comfort from the sentences imposed today, and the fact that those responsible for Andrew’s tragic death have been held accountable for their gross negligence and failures.

“The failure to have adequate safety measures in place, showed a complete disregard for the health and safety of those working at the firm which sadly resulted in Andrew losing his life. The company chose to ignore Health and Safety regulations which should have been in place whilst machinery was in operation and ignored repeated warnings about the dangers posed to employees.

“I hope this case highlights the importance that all firms and businesses must take their responsibilities seriously, they have an obligation to ensure their sites and places of work are fully equipped with all adequate safety measures, to ensure the safety of all of their employees.

“Failing to adhere to this legislation is a criminal offence and one which can have tragic consequences.”

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, Jacqueline Ferguson said:

“Mr Tibbott’s death was wholly avoidable and arose as a direct consequence of a systemic failure within the company to ensure employees’ health and safety at work was protected and that they were not exposed to the risk of serious injury and death.

"There was a complete failure at management level to appreciate the need to proactively manage health and safety and a failure to react to incidents, injuries and reports of conditions that posed a serious risk to the health and safety of employees and others. Our thoughts remain with Mr Tibbott’s family.”

Image
News type