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Company fined over electrocution

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The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has welcomed the guilty verdict but, at the same time expressed concern at the conclusion of the criminal trial of MITIE Engineering Services (Edinburgh) following the death of its worker, Michael Adamson, in 2005.

Electrician Michael Adamson, 26, from Bo'ness, died while working on a live wire marked "not in use" at a JJB Fitness Centre.

His employer, Mitie Engineering Services (Edinburgh), was today found guilty of breaching health and safety laws over his death.

The company was ordered to pay a £300,000 fine at Dundee Sheriff Court.

Earlier this month, three of the firm's senior employees, managing director William Mitchell, operations director Scott Wallace and project and technical services manager Ian Storrar, were cleared of neglect over Mr Adamson's death.

Ian Tasker, STUC assistant secretary said: "Yet again we witness a bereaved family left cheated by a justice system that appears powerless to punish those who take management decisions which place the lives of their workers at risk.

"During these proceedings we heard the accused company described as ‘the invisible man in the dock', following the collapse of the charges against three individuals in this case. This is a clear example of how decision makers can hide behind the corporate veil, deflecting liability on an inanimate body such as a company.

"Clearly a company is incapable of taking decisions on health and safety management and we believe statutory duties, not guidance, is required to ensure company directors and senior managers take their responsibilities seriously.

"The STUC remains concerned that not a single director or manager in Scotland has been convicted under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act in the last five years while 61 breaches of this regulation have been successfully prosecuted in England and Wales.

"We hope the recent announcement by the Lord Advocate proposing a specialist division to prosecute health and safety cases will lead to far more consistency in prosecuting such cases across the United Kingdom.

"However, this does little to help the family of Michael Adamson deal with their loss, and this is now compounded by a deep feeling of injustice, a feeling that is replicated time and time again following workplace deaths."

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