The Tories have slashed the Health and Safety Executive budget and have restricted safety inspections across many sectors of the economy. Now, the estate of a Tory Peer has pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations, resulting in the deaths of two young men.
On 18 February 2013, two young men Scott Cain, 23, and Ashley Clarke, 24, were discovered unconscious in an apple store on the 2,500 acre Hampshire Blackmoor Estate owned by the Earl of Selborne, John Palmer.
The pair were collecting apples when fumes in a building that is kept cool by a system that uses nitrogen to regulate temperature, oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity overcame them.
Under the Control of Substances Hazards to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) then if hazardous substances are present in a workplace then the employer should assess the risks and put in place control measures to prevent exposure and where this is not possible put in place control measures to minimise the risk.
Blackmoor Estate was established in 1920s and has a long-standing reputation for its apples, pears and plums that are also used to produce ciders and juices. At 2,500 acres it is one of the largest estates in Hampshire, a county in which just 307 landowners own 36% of the land with the other 1.6 million people the rest.
In January, Estate’s legal representative Ben Compton pleaded guilty to three of four health and safety charges relate to inadequate emergency plans and risk assessments against the firm. Sentencing agains the estate has been adjourned until after June when Andrew Stocker, 57, from Bordon, a former manager at the estate, will be standing trial on two counts of gross negligence manslaughter. He is pleading not guilty.