The widening ambit of Health and Safety legislation

Following the recent fining of a recruitment agency earlier this year, a safety consultant has now been fined by the HSE (Northern Ireland). This demonstrates the ever widening ambit of Health and Safety legislation.

Following the fining of a recruitment agency earlier this year under section 3 of the Health and Safety at work etc Act 1974, which placed a worker who later tragically died following an accident in the workplace; a safety consultant has now been fined by the HSE (Northern Ireland) for Health and Safety offences. This demonstrates the ever widening ambit of Health and Safety legislation.

The fine was imposed following the death of an employee in a warehouse operated by Hayes Fuels after a stack of pallets fell on him. He died two days later from his injuries. Whilst the company was fined £50,000, the safety consultant in this case was fined £4,000.

Stanley Gibson, the consultant, of the Stanley Gibson Partnership had previously carried out a risk assessment of the area where the accident occurred and had in fact found that there might be safety issues with the storage system used. Unfortunately, he failed to complete the assessment and did not correctly identify the control measures which needed to be put in place to prevent the risk of the products and pallets falling from height and causing injury.

Kevin Campbell, an inspector from HSE Northern Ireland’s Major Investigation Team, described the incident as a ‘preventable accident’ causing a ‘needless death’ and emphasised that ‘it is essential that businesses ensure that material is stored properly, and that proper systems are put in place to safely access stored material’.

There have been very few prosecutions of recruitment agencies and safety consultants in the past by the HSE and the above case may suggest a more stringent approach is now being adopted. Mr Campbell reiterated what the HSE expects from safety consultants, stating that: ‘Businesses and consultants must systematically identify all significant risks and develop appropriate control measures. Tragically, in this case, information that was available was not acted upon.’

Author: Alex Iveson

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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