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Health and Safety seminar

On Wednesday 5 February, Gullands Solicitors hosted its first Health and Safety seminar at Maidstone United Football Club’s Gallagher Stadium.  The breakfast event was hosted jointly with Six Pump Court – the Health and Safety Chambers of the Year 2013.  The seminar provided a stark reminder to those attending of the penalties both businesses and company directors face if they fall short on Health and Safety legislation.

Over fifty representatives from the local business community were in attendance and participated in an active audience discussion, sharing ideas and considering how they manage Health and Safety in their businesses.  The seminar, chaired by Gullands’ Chairman, Blair Gulland, included informative sessions on the challenges of Health and Safety, how to handle the aftermath of an incident, corporate manslaughter and the liability
of individuals.

Gullands’ Partner and Head of the Regulatory and Criminal Litigation team, John Roberts, comments: “It is crucial that employers are aware of the risks and liability surrounding Health and Safety.  In more severe cases, such as corporate manslaughter, company directors must be aware that ignorance will not protect them from being prosecuted.  Company directors should familiarise themselves with the steps they need to take to manage an incident.  This includes finding someone neutral and unconnected to the company with the appropriate skills to conduct an investigation, to ensuring that privileged documents are kept safe.  Also preventing employees from discussing or speculating on events, to the importance of contacting a solicitor as soon as possible to liaise with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).”

David Travers QC, from Six Pump Court, considered the law and practice surrounding corporate manslaughter.  He explained how the police are more willing to be involved in work-related deaths and are leaving it much later to hand over to the HSE and also warned businesses to be aware of the common HSE practice to turn investigatory questions into continuous prose to be used as statements and the context altering implications this can have.

Also from Six Pump Court, David Hercock highlighted how company Directors must be aware of all company Health and Safety procedures and workplace risks.  He cautioned that the Courts are becoming increasingly willing to target individuals for carelessness, as seen by a 400% rise in the number of individuals prosecuted since 2012.  Directors need to know exactly what is happening and must be aware that they will be prosecuted for failings even if they were not informed or aware of a potential risk.

For more information on Health & Safety in the workplace contact John Roberts