Ovenpride Wholesale was fined just £1 by the City of London Magistrates Court after admitting breaching section 2(1) HSWA in an incident where a handyman, Rocco Carofalo, sustained fatal injuries after falling from a stepladder in April 2009. Mr Carofalo was asked by Bakery Manager, Amjad Mahmood, to build some shelving in a storeroom. Whilst the accident itself was not witnessed, Mr Carofalo was found with a fatal head wound and a stepladder laying beside him on the floor. The stepladder was found to be in a poor condition and a Prohibition Notice was issued preventing any further work at height due to the absence of any adequate access equipment. Mr Mahmood was separately charged under section 37(1) HSWA for bringing about the corporate section 2(1) offence. He claimed he had warned Mr Carofalo not to use the stepladder but to use the forks of a pumptruck to make a platform with a colleague. However, the HSE contended that even this would not have been a safe method.
Whilst it was acknowledged that cases involving fatalities were routinely committed to the Crown Court, since the company was in liquidation and had virtually no assets the magistrates accepted that they had adequate sentencing powers for the case. They also accepted that the link between Mr Carofalo’s death and the breach in question was disputed. Both the company and Mr Mahmood pleaded guilty to the charges against them and, in addition to the company’s fine of £1, Mr Mahmood was fined £300 with £200 costs.