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Corporate manslaughter verdict

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"Companies which flout health and safety laws at the expense of their employees' safety will be made to pay."

That is the message sent out to the construction industry today as Wisbech company English Brothers Ltd. was convicted of causing the death of gang-foreman Bill Larkman. The company was fined £30,000 plus £12,500 costs after pleading guilty to separate charges of corporate manslaughter and breaching health and safety law.

Mr Larkman, 50, of King's Lynn, fell eight metres through fragile insulation material while in the process of erecting an onion store on a farm at The Crofts, High Road, Newton, Wisbech, on 29 June 1999.

Philip Poynter, Principal Inspector of Construction for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated the death, said, "This verdict gives a signal to all construction companies and their directors that such work, especially roof-work, is very high risk and requires stringent control if we are to reduce the rising trend in the number of fatal injuries in the construction industry.

"Companies and their directors in overall control of construction work, both large and small, have a strict legal duty to ensure that contractors working for them have the correct precautions in place and are properly supervised.

"The industry has to change its culture to one where all parties take their responsibilities more seriously and look out for each other."

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