The importance of hiring a health and safety investigation solicitor
Recent years have seen major changes in the way in which incidents are investigated and significant increases to the fines that can be imposed. The range and complexity of health and safety legislation means that it is important to seek advice pro-actively, to ensure that your company is compliant with the law, rather than waiting for an accident to happen.
If a company is prosecuted, in addition to the prospect of significant fines and damaging publicity, there is the possibility of custodial sentences for company directors or officers. If the worst happens and your company faces investigation by the police, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local authority, it is vital to obtain specialist legal advice from the outset in order to protect your company’s position.
Stephensons has a team of expert solicitors trained to the highest standard who are well versed in the specifics of health and safety law. It is important for business owners to be aware that the earlier you contact a solicitor when a health and safety case arises, the better chance there is of a positive outcome.
It is absolutely essential for business owners to be aware of the possibilities of injury, illness and even death in regards to their employees. Key figures for Great Britain in regards to health and safety statistics* from 2019 include:
- 147 fatal injuries to workers in 2018/19
- 69,208 non-fatal injuries to employees reported by employers in 2018/19
- 1.4 million workers suffering from work related ill health cases (new or long standing) in 2018/19
- 28.2 billion working days lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2018/19
- 12,000 lung disease deaths each year estimated to be linked to past exposures at work
- 2,526 mesothelioma deaths in 2017, with a similar number of lung cancer deaths linked to past exposures to asbestos
Our HSE investigation experience
Our health and safety solicitors are able to provide industry-specific advice in various sectors. Stephensons are well versed in specific areas of health and safety law including:
- General regulatory compliance
- Advising on health and safety policies and compliance with regulatory requirements
- Requests for information from the HSE and local authority
- Accident investigations (including fatalities) by the police, Health and Safety Executive, local authorities and fire authorities
- Enforcement, improvement and prohibition notices
- Appeals against improvement and enforcement notices
- Representing companies and directors at PACE interviews
- Advice and representation at all stages of Magistrates’ and Crown Court proceedings
- Corporate manslaughter and homicide
- Gross negligence manslaughter
- Coroners inquests
- Asbestos regulation
- Health and safety at construction sites including the CDM Regulations
- Advice/assistance with compliance and enforcement issues regarding coronavirus (Covid-19) regulations
If you are currently faced with a health and safety court case or you are worried that an incident at work may result in such, contact Stephensons and ask to speak to a health and safety solicitor. Please call 0161 696 6250 to speak to one of our solicitors or alternatively complete and submit our online enquiry form and someone will contact you as soon as possible in regards to your queries.
Recent HSE investigation cases
Our specialist HSE investigation solicitors act for a wide range of clients, recent examples of our cases include:
- Our lawyers acted for a senior staff member of a care home after a fire resulted in fatalities
- Our lawyers acted for a tree surgery business after the injury of a self-employed contractor
- Our lawyers acted in the investigation of the inadequate and inappropriate removal of asbestos from a private rented property
- Our lawyers acted in the prosecution of a sole trader for gas safety offences
- Our lawyers acted in an investigation into a wall collapse on a construction site
- Our lawyers acted for business owners after an accident involving heavy construction machinery, resulting in amputation of the lower limb
- Our lawyers acted in the investigation of a scaffolding business after a fall from height
- Our lawyers acted for the owners of a large manufacturing business after an accident in which the worker lost digits
- Our lawyers acted for the landlord of a public house after a staff member fell and sustained an injury
- Our lawyers acted in the investigation of an engineering consultancy after concerns regarding outdated procedures
What to do if you’re under a HSE investigation
Whether you have received notice that you are being investigated by HSE or you are worried that an investigation might be a possibility in the wake of an incident, it is important that you seek expert legal advice as soon as possible, to make sure you are prepared for what might happen next.
If you have the benefit of a legal partner to help you prepare for the process of a HSE investigation, you can ensure that you understand exactly what to expect during the visit and the various types of advice or guidance that you might receive.
Who is responsible for workplace health & safety?
Workplace safety and the welfare of employees is, for the most part, the responsibility of the employer. You must provide a safe working environment for staff, and have procedures and processes in place to show how you are assessing and minimising risks. All staff need to be fully trained (in relation to their specific duties) to enable them to do their job safely.
What happens during a workplace health and safety investigation?
If the HSE decide to carry out an investigation into your business, they will send an inspector, or a team (depending on the circumstances) to gather information, establish the facts surrounding the area of concern or a specific incident that may have occurred. The aim of the investigation is to determine the underlying cause of the incident and whether any breaches of health and safety law have occurred. The HSE inspector can provide guidance and advice for improving current health and safety practices, and can also issue improvement notices. If it is determined that one or more significant breaches have occurred, it is possible that you may be prosecuted.
How to choose health and safety solicitors
Whether you want legal advice to ensure that you are compliant with health and safety laws or want specialist support because your business is subject to an investigation, choosing the right lawyers can make all the difference.
At Stephensons, we are highly experienced in this area of law, with an expert team and a proven track record of achieving positive outcomes for our clients. We can tailor our services to suit the needs of your business, both for standalone and ongoing legal support. Call us on 0161 696 6250 to find out more.
*Health and safety at work - summary statistics for Great Britain 2019