March 27, 2018

Former UKIP Candidate Jailed for Health & Safety Failings

A millionaire property tycoon who had previously represented UKIP as a parliamentary and local council candidate has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail following the death of a builder working at his Exeter home.

Keith Crawford, 74, was sentenced following his conviction by a jury of gross negligence manslaughter, after builder Peter Clements died in January 2015 due to lack of safety precautions during a trench excavation.

Clements was crushed under tonnes of earth, suffering a collapsed lung and several broken ribs, after a trench (known in health & safety as a “confined space”) he was digging next to Crawford’s swimming pool collapsed on top of him.

His son Ryan, who was with him in the trench at the time, managed to escape and pulled him out with the help of their colleague, but Mr Clements died three days later in hospital.

Crawford – who was also given a concurrent sentence of 12 months for failure to comply with health & safety regulations – had argued that he could not be held responsible because Mr Clements was a sub-contractor and not directly employed by him.

This case, which has featured in The Metro, Mirror, Times and all other major media outlets, serves as a high-profile reminder that the HSE will identify individuals and secure prosecutions from courts applying new, stricter sentencing guidelines that have seen a huge rise in jail time for business owners and senior personnel.

You can read more about these guidelines in our H&S legislation guide:

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE H&S LEGISLATION GUIDE

Know what a confined space is and how to ensure they’re safe for work

A confined space is a place which is substantially enclosed (though not always entirely), and where serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby (e.g. lack of oxygen).

Confined spaces can be found in almost any workplace and, despite its name, is not necessarily small.

Examples of confined spaces include silos, vats, hoppers, utility vaults, tanks, sewers, pipes, trenches including graves, access shafts, truck or rail tank cars, aircraft wings, boilers, manholes, manure pits and storage bins.

By law you must carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks for all work activities to decide what measures are necessary for safety (under regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999).

For work in confined spaces this means identifying the hazards present, assessing the risks and determining what precautions to take.

In most cases the assessment will include consideration of:

  • the task
  • the working environment
  • working materials and tools
  • the suitability of those carrying out the task
  • arrangements for emergency rescue

Identify the hazards, who and how harm might occur, put your controls in place and communicate them to all involved.

Further advice for Moorepay customers

If you are responsible for confined spaces and want to talk through your options please call the advice line on 0345 184 4615.

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About the author

Terry Rebanks