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October/November 2019 (vol. 16/3)

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Expert Witness: Manslaughter at work

An update on the common and statute law


OH legal expert Diana Kloss explains when individuals and corporations can be found guilty of manslaughter for a death at work. She also considers implications for healthcare workers’ fitness to practise.

The crime of manslaughter is defined at common law as causing the death of a human through gross negligence but without an intention to kill or do grievance bodily harm (murder). Although a failure of reasonable care may give rise to civil liability to pay compensation, it is insufficient to establish criminal responsibility. In R v Adomako1, an anaesthetist assisting at an operation failed to notice that the tube from the ventilator supplying oxygen had been disconnected for six minutes. The patient suffered a cardiac arrest from which he subsequently died. Expert witnesses described the conduct of the defendant as abysmal and a gross dereliction of care. The House of Lords held that he had been rightly convicted of manslaughter…


Diana Kloss is a barrister, former part-time employment judge, Acas arbitrator and author.


Author: Kloss D


Occupational Health at Work October/November 2019 (vol. 16/3) pp35-36

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