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The head of a storage depot in Barking, London, has been charged with manslaughter in a case that started in the Old Bailey on January 20.


The court heard that a manager working in the depot had spotted that two workmen were ill-equipped with PPE (personal protective equipment) and should not be doing the job of moving large glass panels. These concerns were reported to head of the depot Han Rao, but the prosecution claims that Rao ignored the warnings and allowed the workers to continue.


The two men were carrying the 200kg glass panels when one of them, Marian Iancu, was crushed between a forklift truck and two panels. Iancu died from suffocation, and it is alleged that he had not had sufficient health and safety training for his work.


Andrew Thomas, QC, criticised the firm’s health and safety failings, saying:


"These failings ran throughout the defendant's operation and were a direct cause of Mr. Iancu's death. The negligence involved was shockingly bad."


There was no evidence that the firm had done risk assessments. There should have been five or six people assigned to the plate glass job, not two. In his defence, Rao said he told the two workers not to do the work, but they ignored his orders and carried on.


This case illustrates that if a director of a company is found negligent in health and safety matters, they could face a prosecution that leads to time in jail.

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