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Thread: Willful Ignorance: Is it Criminal

  1. #1 Willful Ignorance: Is it Criminal 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Who should be held criminally responsible for the deaths of workers? If a company's CEO or Senior management is guilty of ignoring safety regulations and someone dies as a result, then have they committed a crime? If so, then is it prison or a fine? Mining disasters come to mind.

    I remember a few years ago when 3 workers fell to their deaths from a Toronto highrise under construction. I believe it was the first time a company hierarchy was found criminally responsible and sentenced to prison here in the province of Ontario, Canada. Trouble is that you don't hear a lot about owners, presidents, CEO's etc. getting jail time or even convicted when ignored safety rules result in death(s). Is due diligence enough to get senior management off the hook in most cases? Or does being wealthy have an advantage here also? What about foreign ownership....are their CEO's untouchable?


    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Ascended Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Usually CEO's don't get to involved with the nitty gritty, instead others are assigned areas of responsibility and if things do go wrong then they carry the can, that's not to say that the CEO is not ultimately responsible for what happens in his company. In fairness though you won't find to many CEO's ever instructing employees to ingore dangers or put people's lives at risk. Situations like this usually tend to occur because of pressure on employees to get problems resolved or through cost cutting/profit maximising measures.

    If the people responsible for the correct risk management stratergies don't do their jobs properly should the CEO be held criminally responsible? I not so sure on this, if there a genuine case of willful neglegence, then maybe, but like everybody else even company bosses on dependent on other people they can't always know everything that happens or the way situations are delt with, they have to trust the people working for them, just like everybody else has to trust the driver when they get on a bus or a train. Also if you have a teacher at a school that hurts one of the children then you don't normally also charge the headmaster.

    This of course being said there have certainly been some cases coming to light over the years of specific corporate stratergies that have seen others put at risk purely to boost company profits and dividends for the shareholders. These situations are much more clear cut and certainly when people are killed or injured because of such situations then company bosses certainly should be held to account and even face criminal prosecution. What I do think is important though is that when there is clear evidence that management deliberately put people in danger that they have the book thrown at them, I mean no little 12 month holiday in a prison country club, so as to ensure that all bosses are reminded of their responsibilities to their staff and customers, and not just to the share holders.


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