Home » News
News

Crown censure for MoD over death of 21-year-old soldier

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with a Crown censure after a soldier was shot and killed while on a training exercise in Kent.

©iStock/PeskyMonkey

Fusilier Dean Griffiths, 21, died from a gunshot wound in the neck during a live training exercise at Lydd Ranges military firing range in Kent on 14 September 2011.
 
The exercise required troops to enter a compound that had been designed to simulate the type of building they would encounter in Afghanistan. They were divided into two groups: an assault group to enter and secure the site, and a fire support group to provide cover. 
 
The compound contained both enemy and civilian targets, made from thin plywood to allow the live bullets to pass through them and avoid ricochets. Unused targets were often laid on the floor to give the appearance of debris, however on this occasion one of these targets had been propped up in the wrong place, against a wooden wall.
 
Griffiths, who was part of the assault group, was lined up against the wall of the compound while two soldiers, followed by a safety supervisor, entered and panned left to right. As one soldier turned right, he saw the enemy target and fired two shots at it. One of the bullets went through the target and the wooden wall and hit Griffiths, who was standing on the other side.
 
The exercise was stopped almost immediately but Griffiths, whose partner was expecting their first child, died at the scene.
 
The HSE found the exercise was undermanned and two groups had been merged to cope with the lack of resources. It said the incident could have been avoided had targets not been used as debris, and the range conducting officer should have carried out a final inspection before the exercise to ensure the targets corresponded to the target plan.
 
The Crown censure is for breaching ss 2(1) and 2(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The MoD admitted that its unsafe system of work and the poorly organised exercise exposed its employees to safety risks.
 
The Crown censure is the maximum sanction for a government body the HSE can bring. There is no financial penalty, but once accepted it is an official record of failing to meet the standards set out in law.

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

Comments

  • Sad unnecessary death within

    Permalink Submitted by Terence McAndrew on 5 October 2016 - 07:42 pm

    Sad unnecessary death within the MOD again. I speak from experience when I say that training has to be both tough and realistic, but those in command should not neglect their duty to ensure that training is conducted in as safe an environment as possible. Bad enough to lose comrades in conflict situations, never mind in peacetime training exercises.

    reply
  • if the minimum level of

    Permalink Submitted by Jim Sampson on 7 October 2016 - 11:34 am

    if the minimum level of resource to carry out live training could not be provided the range officer should have stopped the exercise and made appropriate adjustments to maintain range safety standards. From my experience senior commanders used to pressure range officers to run with limited resources to take advantage of the scarce facilities. Poor planning led to an unnecessary loss of life.

    reply
  • I ran many range practices,

    Permalink Submitted by Neil Prince on 31 October 2016 - 10:12 am

    I ran many range practices, and at no time, I repeat no time would I have accepted any inter action/intervention from Senior Commanders. It's MY range and MY responsibility. Those times are well behind me now, but as already commented on, in peace time it's hard to lose someone, especially if it is preventable.

    reply

Add new comment