Fleet decision-makers were today advised that if they haven’t already done everything they can to manage driver risk, now is the time. This follows the announcement of the UK’s first ever criminal conviction and fine for corporate manslaughter.
Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings has just been convicted of the death of 27-year-old geologist Alex Wright, who died in September 2008 when a trench in which he was working collapsed. As a result his employer has been fined £385,000 – less than suggested by the Sentencing Guidelines Council but still a huge sum for a small company.
According to Essential Risk Consultancy (ERC), this is exactly the wake-up call that some organisations need.
David Faithful, lawyer for ERC, comments: “Despite years of warnings, many companies are still woefully under-protected when it comes to managing driver risk. As this case demonstrates, failure to do everything possible to keep employees safe can lead to appalling publicity and a massive fine.
“Every organisation with employees who drive for work needs to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment and do whatever they can to reduce risk. Otherwise the next conviction we read about may well be for the unlawful death of a business driver.”
Jeremy Hay, managing director of Essential Risk Consultancy, adds: “Managing fleet risk should be top of the agenda. It reduces costs, means drivers spend less time off the road and satisfies the organisation’s duty of care to its employees.
“The Alex Wright case makes for shocking reading. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, Mr Wright’s death ‘would never have happened if Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings had properly protected him.’ No fleet should risk having the same said about it.”