Home>Plant & Machinery>General Plant & Machinery>Company owner jailed after death of employee
Home>Premises>Risk Management>Company owner jailed after death of employee

Company owner jailed after death of employee

21 June 2023

A GARDEN supplies company owner has been jailed and the firm has been fined £700,000 after a worker was crushed to death by a robotic packing arm.

Andrew Tibbott, 48, suffered fatal injuries on 14 April 2017 at the premises of Deco-Pak Ltd in Hipperholme, West Yorkshire, after attempting to clean a sensor on the automated bagging production line.

Safety systems for the production line, known as the RM machine, were deliberately disabled or bypassed within weeks of its installation in early 2015.

These features included safety fencing and a system which would automatically shut down the power if anyone stepped inside the production area.

Unsafe practices continued at the company in the two years before Mr Tibbott’s death, and there was no promotion, planning or ongoing review of health and safety.

Prosecutors also highlighted that senior management at the company were notified on numerous occasions about the bypassing of safety systems and the likely consequence of accidents and injury.

On 14 January 2022, Deco-Pak Ltd was convicted of corporate manslaughter following a trial. The jury could not agree on a verdict regarding company owner Michael Hall - who faced a single count of gross negligence manslaughter.

Company director Rodney Slater was acquitted of gross negligence manslaughter and an offence of consenting or conniving to the company’s breach of section 2(1) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Following a re-trial, Hall was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter on 24 April 2023.

He was today sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Leeds Crown Court while Deco-Pak Ltd was fined £700,000 and ordered to pay £90,000 in court costs. 

Alex Johnson, specialist prosecutor with the CPS Special Crime Division said, “Andrew Tibbott was killed by a powerful and dangerous piece of machinery in an accident that should never have happened. 

“The CPS was able to show the jury that the repeated warnings the company had received from the machine suppliers had been ignored, as well as evidence of the wider negligence in keeping employees safe around the machinery.

“Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Mr Tibbott.”

Jacqueline Ferguson, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector said, “Mr Tibbott’s death was wholly avoidable. 

“It 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.”