First corporate manslaughter case for the hospitality industry?
The tragic death of five-year-old Mohammed Munib Majeedi following a fall from the ninth floor bedroom window of the OYO Metropolitan Hotel Sheffield is a salient reminder to all hotel and residential accommodation providers to review their window restraints to prevent a similar incident from occurring.
Many hoteliers, care home and student accommodation providers carry out audits of their bedroom windows to ensure that these cannot open more than 100mms. Serious injuries occur when people fall through or from windows. Such falls can be accidental, e.g. where people sit on a windowsill and unintentionally fall through. This is a well-known issue and the HSE published guidance in 2012 which you can access here.
This death will be investigated by the police working jointly with the local council’s environmental health team since these premises are within the local authorities enforcing remit. The CPS will advise on corporate manslaughter proceedings having considered the evidence. The offence is specified in section 1 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
The following needs to be proved:
— the defendant is a qualifying organisation
— the organisation owed a relevant duty of care to the deceased
— there was a gross breach of that duty by the organisation
— the way in which its activities were managed or organised by its senior management was a substantial element in the breach
— the gross breach of the organisation’s duty caused or contributed to the death
The investigation’s focus will be on the management of health and safety and the failings of senior management.
We recommend that all accommodation providers inspect their premises and install or repair any defective window restrictors; ensure that the restrictors are checked on a regular basis and that records are kept about those inspections. Housekeeping staff should be trained to understand the risks, the precautions required and the need to report any defects found. Front desk staff should be trained to explain to irate guests why they cannot open the windows in their rooms as widely as they may choose to do so at home.
Do get in touch if you and your team want some training on the implications of the Corporate Manslaughter Act.
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