The Power Service - Newcastle

Prosecutions in the Workplace




A 17 year old collapsed in a pool of water after he moved a plate-warmer that became live because of a badly made plug. He died just days after handing in his notice at Fatty Arbuckle's in Lincoln. At least four other £3-an-hour employees had received electric shocks from the same machine before the tragedy. The plugs earth wire had been disconnected and was lying over the live cable. Tests later showed 11 out of the 56 appliances in the diner were faulty.


Now ex-bosses of the fast food chain which has gone into liquidation and closed all outlets could face corporate manslaughter charges after the jury returned a verdict that the victim was unlawfully killed.


Assistant Kitchen Manager Adam Clarke said he changed fuses on the plate-warmer and found there was no earth in the plug. He twice received shocks and complained.

Extract from the Daily Star




Ciara McGinley, 22, from Strabane, Northern Ireland went into a McDonald's restaurant and died when she touched the exposed wiring of a faulty hand-dryer. Belfast Crown Court heard that the condition of the equipment had already been brought to the attention of Diamond Restaurants Ltd., who admitted that they failed to ensure the health and safety of employees.





Electrical Safety Prosecutions




The Landlord had prepared a property ready for letting but the Tenant refused to move into the property for fear of electrical items not being safe to use.  The Tenant complained to the local Trading Standards Office who prosecuted the Landlord for supplying unsafe electrical goods to the property which did not comply with the Electrical Safety Regulations. 


The court decided that even though the Tenant did not move in to the property, the intention to leave the unsafe items at the property by the Landlord, and the fact that the goods were at the property at the start of the Tenancy, was still a breach of the regulations.




In probably the first case of its type, property manager Velma Shallow, proprietor of Lyttons Property Services, Oxford, pleaded guilty on 3rd April 1998 at Oxford Magistrates Court to supplying illegal electrical goods to tenants in accommodation which she had let out.


The landlord, Mr Shafi, employed Lyttons to manage the property for him.  In court it was heard that Mr George Shallow, Velma Shallow’s father, failed to make vital checks prior to tenants moving in.  Four students in the property complained to Oxfordshire’s Trading Standards office, who seized items for testing.  A refrigerator, under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, involving Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and Plugs and sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994, was found to be faulty.


The magistrates imposed fines totaling £1,625 on Miss Shallow and ordered her to pay £1,400 costs.  The magistrate commented: “We would like to stress that if you are letting property to tenants, you must have regard for their safety”. 


This case emphasises that letting agents who manage properties for landlords are equally responsible for ensuring that electrical items in rented accommodation are safe.




In May 2005 a Housing Management Agent in Bethnal Green was fined £2,500 and a further £2,000 in legal costs for a defective fire alarm system (and failing to clear flammable materials from a stairwell) in a block of flats. The building’s fire alarm system failed to meet the relevant standard.




The Nottingham Landlord failed to prove he had completed the necessary electrical and fire safety checks in student flats. The court was told that missing certificates related to ‘the general electrics, the fire alarm system, escape lighting and hot water systems’.


The court also heard that tenants could recover their rent for the last 12 months if the landlord failed to hold the correct licence.





Gas Safety Regulations



HYAMS-v-OWEN (1997)

Mr Owen, the Landlord, allowed a maintenance man who was not CORGI registered to fit a boiler which did not comply with the safety regulations.  The tenant Sonjia Hyams died from carbon monoxide poisoning. 


The Landlord was imprisoned for two years for manslaughter and the maintenance man 15 months.





The Housing Act




A Landlord who failed to fix fire alarms in a two-storey block of bed-sits has been fined in what is believed to be the first successful prosecution using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).


Mr L Vania from Nuneaton was ordered to pay £2,000 and £150 costs after a court heard he failed to correct a number of hazards.




In 2004,  Derby City Council prosecuted a landlord for failing to carry out fire safety works to three three-storey properties.


All were classed as being houses in multiple occupation (HMO) so fell into what the government has since classified as ‘high risk’ under the new regulations which came into force in April 2006.