22 January 2015

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) recently hosted a mock trial in London focusing on mobile phones and occupational road risk in the food manufacturing sector.

The mock legal trial highlighted the fatal consequences of a food manufacturing company that failed to ensure its employees were following road safety policies.

The event featured real-life prosecution and defence advocates from Weightmans LLP, who played the roles of prosecution, defence and the judge.

Over 130 delegates attended the event to witness the simulated health and safety prosecution unfolding, with some delegates also taking on the role of jurors.

The proceedings of the trial centred on a road accident in which a woman died and her eight-year-old son suffered life-altering injuries, after the car they were travelling in collided with a van driven by a woman on business.

It was revealed the businesswoman – a regional sales manager for a food manufacturing company - had listened to a voicemail message left on her mobile phone by her line manager shortly before losing control of the van and colliding with the car.

The scenario exposed a culture throughout the business of non-compliance with a company road safety policy banning the use of mobile phones while driving. Other work-related issues, such as excessive workloads and stress, were also brought to the fore.

The jury of delegates found the businesswoman guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and the company guilty of corporate manslaughter.

In this mock scenario, the judge sentenced the businesswoman to four years in jail and ordered the company to pay fines and costs in excess of £580,000.

Commenting on the event, John Boyle, Chair of the IOSH Food and Drink Group, said, “Hopefully this event will have raised questions and delegates will go back to their workplaces and think about how their companies manage their fleets”.