As EHS regulatory activity continues to grow, enforcement continues around the world. Below are just a few examples of recent EHS enforcement actions.
In February, an employer in England became the first company convicted under new corporate manslaughter laws in the UK. The conviction related to the death of a geologist in 2008, who was killed when an unsupported 3.5 metre collapsed on him. At trial, it was proved that senior management failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure his safety. The fact that they had not implemented measures from well-established industry health and safety guidance was used as evidence to show that reasonable practicable steps had not been taken to protect the worker. The company was fined GBP385,000 (approximately USD325,000 or EUR440,000), nearly four-times the average fine for fatal accident at work in the UK, in line with the recently published harsher sentencing guidance. While UK Government sentencing guidelines suggest that fines for corporate manslaughter will often be measured in millions of pounds, in this case the fine was limited due to the financial circumstances of the company.
In another workplace fatality case in England, an employer was fined GBP400,000 (USD650,000 or EUR450,000) following the 2008 death of a worker on a factory floor when he was struck by a forklift.
In the United States, New York environmental authorities reached a settlement with a lead smelting and battery recycling facility after investigations revealed violations of spill reporting and response requirements. As part of the settlement, the company was penalised USD150,000 (EUR 100,000) and agreed to complete an environmental project valued at USD300,000 (EUR200,000). In Kansas, a food processing company was penalised USD390,000 (EUR270,000) following an inspection that revealed excessive discharge of pollutants to publicly-owned treatment works. The company was also required to take remediation actions and will undertake a fish restocking project at a cost of USD32,500 (EUR22,000).
Contributors: Thelma Onyeka, Laura Smith, Tjeerd Hendel-Blackford, Rachel Degenhardt, Aminah Famili.