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Occupational injuries: criminal risks for the manager

According to the State Labor Service of Ukraine, in 6 months of 2019, 1943 cases of occupational injuries were recorded. Most cases were recorded in the coal industry, construction and mechanical engineering. And for each such case - a thorough investigation at the company.

In case of severe or fatal consequences - the employer is obliged to report the incident to the police, as well as to send the police investigation materials (see The procedure for investigation and accounting of accidents, occupational diseases and accidents at work, approved by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine 7337 from 04/17/2019).  

Reporting to the police is the basis for initiating criminal proceedings Art. 271 of the Criminal code of Ukraine (violation of requirements of the legislation on labor protection). The initiation of criminal proceedings under this article requires specific negative consequences in the form of damage to health or death.

This article covers violations of the general rules of labor protection - those that apply to all employees and are aimed at preventing harm to any persons involved in production.

Violations of special security rules are covered by another article, which is also quite common for use by law enforcement - Art. 272 of the Criminal code of Ukraine (violation of safety rules when performing works with the increased danger). In this case, the only threat to prosecution is the threat of death or other serious consequences, or harm to human health.

In the event of critical situations at work, there are risks of prosecuting company officials, which may result in a court conviction.

Which officials are we talking about? Most often it is the head of the enterprise and the chief engineer, in some cases - other persons who on the basis of the order of the administration, job description or in accordance with the position have special responsibilities for labor protection.

What cases of occupational injuries led to real sentences? Many convictions for crimes against industrial safety have been published in the Unified State Register. They all have common features and in most cases the investigation proves the guilt of officials in court, and the court finds the persons guilty and imposes punishment in the form of restriction or imprisonment.

Another negative consequence - this is an additional punishment provided by the articles in the form of a ban on holding certain positions related to the performance of managerial functions. That is, the sentence may also be an obstacle to the appointment to managerial positions within the period specified by the court in the sentence.

In this article we will analyze the case law and on the example of several situations you will be able to see how non-compliance with the usual rules of labor protection can lead to bringing officials of the company to justice.

If you have any questions about being prosecuted for violating health and safety regulations, you can always ask our lawyer for help.



The head of the enterprise gave uneducated workers - a master and a plumber - tasks to carry out work on blowing and pumping sewer wells. During the purge of the sewer pipe with the well, the flushing hose of the compressor system jammed. One of the workers went down to the well to fix the problem, but fainted from the gases emitted from the sewage. The other two workers went down one by one to rescue a colleague and also fainted. The result - one person died, two were rescued by SES rescuers and taken to hospital in critical condition.

The investigation has launched a pre-trial investigation under Art. 271 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for violating the requirements of the legislation on labor protection and established a number of violations of the law. The director was accused of allowing untrained workers to carry out high-risk work in the absence of a permit from the State Labor Office to carry out high-risk work; allowed an untrained person to manage the employees of the enterprise under a civil law contract; did not provide employees with personal protective equipment. It was these circumstances that led to the fatal consequences.

The court convicted the director of the enterprise up to 4 years of imprisonment with a probationary period of 2 years. The court also forbade holding positions related to the implementation of administrative and organizational and organizational administrative term for 3 years (see the verdict of the Velykonovosilkivsky District Court of the Donetsk Region of February 23, 2018 in the case №220 / 224/18 and the Court of Appeal of the Donetsk Region of May 24, 2018).

If you have any questions about being prosecuted for violating health and safety regulations, you can always ask our lawyer for help.


Electrical equipment

Law enforcement agencies have launched a pre-trial investigation under Part 2 of Article 272 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for violation of safety rules during the performance of high-risk work that led to death.

The director of the enterprise was accused of inviting an acquaintance, who had previously worked at the plant, to carry out preventive work on electrical equipment located in a closed transformer substation. At the same time, the contract for maintenance of the company's electrical installations was not concluded with the latter and the availability of the relevant permit was not checked. He also did not ensure compliance with the requirements of the Rules of safe operation of electrical installations of consumers, in particular, regarding the removal of voltage from the current-carrying parts, near which the work was performed, or their fencing. As a result, during preventive work, electrical equipment struck a person with an electric shock, as a result of which the latter died at the scene.

The director of the enterprise admitted his guilt, and the court sentenced him to 2 years' imprisonment, replacing him with 1 year's probation. Additionally, the court deprived him of the right to hold positions related to the performance of administrative functions for 1 year (see the judgment of the Bilopil District Court of the Sumy Region of 19 March 2019 in case №573 / 362/19).

Work at height

In this case, the director and chief engineer of the company were prosecuted for violation of safety rules during the performance of high-risk work under Part 2 of Art. 272 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

The director involved a team of workers to perform high-risk work, among them was also a person hired without concluding an employment contract. This person had to prune trees from the basket of a car hydraulic lift at a height of 6 meters. As a result of safety violations, one of the branches broke during pruning and fell on a person in the basket, causing non-life-threatening injuries.

Investigators found that the director allowed a person who had not been trained and tested on occupational safety to perform the work, without a medical examination and professional selection, without a project of work, which indicates the types, list of necessary means of protection and safe execution. works at height. Also, the director did not ensure the presence of the responsible person (supervisor), who is in direct causal connection with the occurrence of an emergency - injury and death.

At the same time, the chief engineer was accused of issuing a high-risk work order under the above circumstances.

The court found the director and chief engineer of the enterprise guilty, as they were responsible for compliance with safety rules, and their intentional actions to violate safety rules led to the death of a person and a crime under Part 2 of Article 272 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Sentence - 3 years of restriction of liberty with deprivation of the right to hold office or engage in activities related to the performance of organizational and administrative functions for a period of 2 years (see the verdict of the Dobropol City District Court of Donetsk region from 14.09.2017 in the case №227 / 873/17).

What are the causes of such situations?

In all cases, this is a deliberate non-compliance by officials of the enterprise with the established requirements for labor protection. Failure to comply with basic basic safety rules often leads to such negative consequences as criminal prosecution, but the main thing is that it costs people's lives. 

How to defend yourself in such cases? Despite the general trend, there are many cases of acquittals by the courts. The main positions of protection in such cases are to refute violations of labor protection legislation.

Often accidents at work are caused not by intentional actions of the person responsible for labor protection, but by violations of safety rules or other labor protection requirements by employees themselves. (non-compliance or negligent compliance with the rules, use of prohibited methods of performing certain works, etc.). In such cases, there is no causal link between the actions of the head and the resulting negative consequences for the person.

Law enforcement officers themselves are also often mistaken, they do not even mention specific items and articles of bylaws that have not been complied with by a person. General references in such cases are inadmissible. If the essence of the violation is not disclosed, prosecution is excluded.

The investigation must prove that specific responsibilities for labor protection are assigned to the person. Otherwise, liability is excluded.

Acquittals are the result of the defense's painstaking work to prove the absence of a violation of the rules or the causal link between the violation and the negative consequences.

Of course, it is better to monitor compliance with safety rules at the company, both personally and by employees. Often, following all the rules can save lives and is the key to any risk of criminal prosecution.

Occupational injuries are criminal consequences

The article was published in the Journal of the Chief Engineer, November 2019

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If you have questions about occupational injuries and criminal risks of prosecuting officials, you can always seek the help of our lawyer.


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