Arinite Blog


When the ship goes down…….

Category: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards Twitter | Published on: Sep 25, 2013 | Updated: Dec 12, 2016 Read more: Health & Safety

Costa Concordia salvage

Last week the 290m-long Costa Concordia was raised upright in a major salvage operation off the coast of Giglio island. This has refreshed our memories of the disaster. BBC News

Thirty-two people died after the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground with more than 4,000 passengers and crew on 13 January 2012, only hours after leaving the Italian port of Civitavecchia. It was by luck rather than design that the ship turned back onto the rocky shallow after being holed. Many more people could have drowned.

The captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, has blamed his Indonesian helmsman for the accident which caused the ship to sink off the coast of Italy last year. He told a court the helmsman failed to obey orders to slow down and steered the ship onto rocks.

But one maritime expert told the trial that the helmsman’s mistake and slow reaction were not crucial factors. At the time of the crash, the ship had deviated from its pre-established safe route because Mr Schettino wanted to impress passengers with a close-up view of the island. He faces a 20 year prison sentence.

Health and Safety Responsibility

This case highlights that when things go seriously wrong, it is easy to point the blame at others. In this country, directors and senior managers have clear legal Health and Safety duties and are ultimately responsible for their workplace safety.

Between 2001-2011, 45 Directors were prosecuted under the health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Those found guilty were fined and in some cases imprisoned. Individual directors are also liable for the common law offence of gross negligence manslaughter, where the grossly negligent behaviour of individuals cause death.

So senior managers need to ask themselves whether there are efective arrangements in place to manage health and safety risks:

  • Is there a written health and safety policy including arrangements and procedures for managing risk?
  • Is there effective leadership of health and safety, following the Institute of Directors Guidance.
  • Are health and safety responsibilities clearly identified?
  • Is health and safety information clearly communicated to employees?

If you can answer yes to these questions then it will be unlikely that you follow a similar fate to the Captain of the Costa Concordia and your business will stay afloat.

If you think you do not have adequate health and saety arrangements in place then it might be a good time to rectify this……before your ship goes down.

Contact us

If you need to call upon our expertise in Health and Safety Consulting, or just for informal Health and Safety advice, please call me on: mobile 0780 361 2948, office 0207 947 9581, or drop me a line at

Bryan Richards 24th September 2013

Arinite Ltd, Warnford Court, 29 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AT

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