Trendwatch: Managers Facing Jail Time For Safety Incidents

Prosecutors are increasingly going after supervisors and managers following fatal or environmental incidents.  The latest example comes from Chicago where a towboat captain was sentenced on Friday to a six month prison terms for a 2005 barge explosion Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  The incident killed one deckhand and resulted in a significant oil spill.  In this instance, the investigation indicated that the captain ordered the victim to use a propane torch to heat a thaw out a frozen discharge pipe.  As the video shows, the result was predictable.

In late April, a safety supervisor was among the people criminally charged in a 2012 fatality at Bumblebee Tuna. In that case, a worker was trapped in an oven and prosecutors said managers “willfully violating worker safety rules.”

The bottom line is that supervisors and managers have legal responsibilities for ensuring workplace safety and companies that do not give them the proper training and other tools to manage safe work environments face criminal exposure as well.   Are you preparing your supervisors to handle the job?   Lifeline Strategies offers supervisor and manager workshops that can help.  Contact me at 


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