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The actions of your business following an employee experiencing a serious accident on the workplace premises determines how the situation will end. There will most likely be a Health and Safety Executive investigation involving HSE interviews and possibly court proceedings.
Our solicitors understand how this can be extremely stressful and intrusive and disruptive to your business and its reputation. Also, we know that it is a difficult time watching an employee and a friend experience a serious accident. Therefore, we help you through each stage of a HSE investigation and ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible for your business, yourself and your employee.
Important things to consider:
- HSE interviews are conducted in accordance with the HSE Enforcement Policy Statement. They aim to determine the causes of the incident, whether any action is required to prevent a repeat occurrence of the incident and to ensure compliance with the law and what response should be made to breaches of the law.
- During HSE interviews there is the opportunity for a colleague to sit in on the interview if it makes the interviewee feel more secure.
- A HSE prosecution can be very significant. The penalties can threaten not only the business as a whole but also the individuals within them.
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There are various reasons why the HSE would inspect a business but the most common could include:
- Failure to heed a warning and make improvements
- Bad risk management and health and safety standards
- Failure to provide correct workwear for employees
- Breaches of health and safety law
- A Routine inspection results are poor
- Someone calls the emergency services to a workplace accident
- A complaint has been made or a report has been made in accordance with the duties under RIDDOR.
There are essential steps to take following a serious accident in the workplace. These steps are in place to benefit the employees, the employers, witnesses to the accident and the business in preparation for HSE interviews/investigations. This includes;
- Notifying solicitors and getting them to come to the workplace
- Informing insurers
- Establishing an internal investigation
- Ensuring employees do not speculate about the incident in email messages
- Arranging support for he injured employees family and arrange further support or counselling for the employees
- Get a PR consultant to deal with press enquiries and inform employees to not speak to the press
- Notify the death or serious injury in line with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.
After a serious accident has occurred in the workplace the HSE will likely want to investigate this suspected health and safety offence. They’ll do this through interviews with individuals either as witnesses or suspects. Before a witness interview you’re able to have a brief overview of the format of the interview and the likely questions the HSE may ask. If you have an interview under caution you have entitlements to legal representation at the interview.
The HSE may demand that they are given certain documents as evidence. As a result of the investigation, if the HSE believes that the workplace is exposing individuals to risk, inspectors are likely to serve a prohibition notice. In addition, charges may be brought against you and your company. However, you have the right to appeal.
After the HSE investigations it’s likely to lead to prosecution for criminal offences due to found breaches in the Health and Safety Law. Our solicitors can provide you with legal representation in this instance. Our advice covers basis of plea, defence, mitigation and penalties. Additionally, we’ll help you with defence at the Magistrates or Crown Court and representation at a coroner’s inquest.
Furthermore, our wealth of experience in dealing with HSE prosecutions means we can represent you and help you appeal against enforcement actions brought against you by the HSE. Potential enforcement actions include;
- Serving notices on duty holders
- Withdrawing approvals
- Varying licenses, conditions or exemptions
- Issuing cautions
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