Workplace Accidents and Disasters

In this article Mr Bobby Madan a Senior Paralegal at Heathrow Law and Central London talks about the various issues surrounding workplace accidents and disasters.  Bobby has obtained a Masters in International Commercial Law at Brunel University and one of the subjects which really intrigued him was Corporate Social responsibility and Manslaughter.

Working with our senior solicitors in Corporate Manslaughter ,  Bobby gives you an analysis of the various case law in this area, and should you be a corporation or individual who may be affected by some of these issues feel free to contact Bobby for a free legal advice session.

It is out of these types of incidents that law reform was introduced and where we saw the demand for the offence of corporate manslaughter introduced.


The issues have occurred with identifying who in the organisation is responsible and accountable for such disasters. Is it the employees fault, the manager, a senior manager maybe or even higher up the hierarchy the Company Director.  Who is the ‘controlling mind’ responsible for the death of a person or persons. The nature of the Corporate Manslaughter is entirely based upon the failure of an organisation’s senior managers to manage or organise the organisation’s activities.

Our accident at work  solicitors at Heathrow and London have looked at various cases for the purpose of this article in order to give you an understanding of the various cases in this field.  Accidents at work can be small and large scale.

The Piper Alpha Disaster

The extent of death and injury resulting from the Piper Alpha disaster was of general concern to the offshore petroleum industry worldwide, and wide spread reviews of safety equipment and emergency response were undertaken. Occidental escaped enforcement action in the courts because the authorities concluded that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution. This raises the question as to whether economic considerations to maintain business mean that a corporation is absolved from criminal legal repercussions.

No official prosecution was taken, a private criminal prosecution by the victims families was an option but could not be pursued due to legal costs involved. Our accident at work solicitors can help if you have a similar case such as this. This case was an example of the most costly management failure in the UK offshore oil industry. It was identified that senior management were easily satisfied and relied on the absence of any feedback of problems indicating that most safety issues were fine. Safety was relegated for profits. Do you have a case like the Piper Alpha disaster.  Call our Corporate Manslaughter solicitors.

The Herald of Free Enterprise

In this case the corporation was prosecuted for its management failings, but failing to obtain a conviction. The corporation tried to pin the blame on junior employees due to its inability to identify a controlling mind. The public viewed a case where the corporation failed to adopt safe practices and procedures and not be accountable at boardroom level. Due to public pressure numerous lobby groups were formed and placed pressure on the government to change the law.

In the Sheen Report, the following were found;

  1. The immediate cause of the disaster occurred because the ship went to sea with her inner and outer bow doors open. The assistant bosun accepted that it was his duty to close the bow doors at the time of departure from Zeebrugge and that he failed to undertake his duty where he fell asleep and was not awakened by the call where the ship began to capsize.
  2. The full burden of the duty to ensure that his ship is in all aspects ready for sea falls to the master. He is responsible for its safety and that of every person onboard.
  3. Three factors for mitigation were made for the master a) the master merely followed a system which was operated by all masters of the Herald and was approved by the senior master of the ship
  4. The ships standing orders issued by the company made no reference as they should have done to opening and closing the bow and stern doors. Thirdly before the disaster there had been no less than five occasions when one of the company’s ships had proceeded to sea with either bow or stern doors open. Management had known about these but had not drawn to attention of the other masters.

This case illustrated clear evidence of a failure in this management system, where senior management knew or ought to have known that there was a potential hazard with a high severity risk outcome.

Our corporate manslaughter solicitors will be happy to assist you in both low and high scale incidents. Of course these incidents are huge and determining liability is our job. When you instruct our Corporate Manslaughter solicitors, you can be assured that your difficulty will be handled by a team of professional individuals who are aware of the statutory requirements of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide.

So what are the requirements of this act?


An organisation to which this section applies is guilty of an offence if the way in which any of its activities are managed or organised a) causes a person’s death, and b) amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased. The organisation to which this section applies are;

  • A corporation
  • A department or other body listed in schedule 1
  • A police force as defined in section 12(1)
  • A partnership, or trade union or employers association, that is an employer.

For your case to be eligible under this act you must satisfy the above requirements. Our accident at work solicitors have helped individuals not just recover compensation in Personal Injury cases where there have been slips trips or falls. Since the introduction of this act, many individuals are still unaware that there claim lies against the company and they intend to settle their cases on small sums which often leaves them disappointed. Our compensation solicitors can help maximise your case so you don’t feel that you have to accept any offer you don’t want to.

We offer a free legal advice service on corporate manslaughter and accident at work issues. You would be under no obligation to take our service. However you will find that with our experience in this field we can certainly help you obtain the best result. Corporate manslaughter holds liability in both criminal and civil trials. Civil being the damages for negligence claim and criminal being the liability of the individuals concerned to face criminal sanctions for there misconduct.

We have seen over the years various types of Manslaughter with large CEO’s in major banks, take for example Richard Fuld of Lehman brothers in 2008, where the bank was brought into ruin by the wrongful decisions of its senior members, yet the CEO managed to escape all liability and walked away with a payout in excess of $500 million dollars.

It was cases such as these that brought the rules into place. Our accident solicitors in Heathrow work with various legal departments of solicitors practices. We only use the best solicitors in the industry. Duncan Mc Nair is one of our solicitors and Duncan has a wide range of skills in this area.

Duncan has 30 years experience in Commercial and corporate matters and Heathrow Law often instructs him with regards to injuries at work and various other corporate matters. Duncan is often featured in the top 100 lawyers ranking.

Call us today on 0208 575 0061 if in West London or if you are in Heathrow we are on 0208 757 8616.