Cambridge Firm: Fined After Corporate Manslaughter

31 July 2015, 14:14 | Updated: 31 July 2015, 14:26

After the recent conviction of corporate manslaughter following the death of Cambridge worker Paul Bowers, the aerospace firm's been fined today.

It was 26th January 2013, when contractor Paul Bowers was crushed to death at the CAV Aerospace warehouse at Cambridge Airport.

Mr Bowers was crushed by several tonnes of aircraft-grade aluminium and died at the scene despite the best efforts of the ambulance and fire service crews.

During a trial at The Old Bailey the jury were told how the premises in which Paul worked in was over-crowed with aircraft grade aluminium 'stringers' which formed skeletal structures inside aircrafts for large parts such as wings.

This was an issue which was raised by Cambridge managers to senior management within the parent company, CAV Aerospace, several times over years due to it being unsafe, however no action was ever taken.

On the day of Paul's death, he and a colleague were working in the warehouse when a stack of stringers weighing several tonnes collapsed, landing on top of Paul and crushing him. He died at the scene despite the best efforts of the ambulance and fire service crews, whilst his colleague escaped with minor injuries.

The jury also heard how Paul was in a walkway which should have been a completely clear area, however it was being used to store extra stock material. Either side of the walkway the stacks of stringers were above maximum safe heights.

Had the walkway of been clear when the stringers fell on Paul, medics believe he would not have suffered fatal injuries. Instead it is likely he would have suffered injuries to his legs only, which, whilst life changing, would likely not have proved fatal.

Paul, who lived in Peverel Close, Cambridge, was 47 when he died and had been contracted to work as a Warehouse Operative for CAV Cambridge. He had only been there for 19 days before his death.

Detective Constable Simon Albrow said:

"As parent company to CAV Cambridge, CAV Aerospace failed to act on safety risks which were brought to their attention at the Cambridge site. We therefore sought to prosecute the company for corporate manslaughter due to the collective failings in the management and control of CAV Cambridge which ultimately led to this tragic loss of life. 

While nothing we do can fully fill the hole that Paul's death has left within his family, I do hope this conviction provides some closure for them."

Health and Safety Executive Inspector, Graham Tompkins, said:

"CAV Aerospace failed to listen to repeated warnings about the dangers they were exposing workers to when metal billets were stacked too high and without restraints.

The CAV Aerospace board did not act on requests from their local managers or an independent health and safety consultant's advice that a new stacking system was needed, as well as reducing the amount of metal billets stored, before someone got hurt.

Paul Bowers paid the ultimate price for the company's senior managers ignoring that advice and his death was entirely preventable.

Company directors and senior managers need to learn from this tragic case and take the right steps to protect their workers." 

Last Friday (July 24th) CAV Aerospace was found guilty of corporate manslaughter following an eight-week trial which started at The Old Bailey.

The company was also found guilty under the Health and Safety at Work Act of exposing workers to risks to their personal safety.

On top of the £600,000 fine, the company much also pay £125,000 in costs.