Our Executive Team recently attended a Mock Trial Training session, which included a brief on the regulatory framework, the relevant Acts (UK-HSAW 1974), several recent case studies, how prosecution would work, the Mock Trial where a case was played through, whilst the delegates acted as the jury. There was also a briefing from a practising Barrister.
The event was incredibly thought-provoking and an invaluable learning opportunity.
Whilst the session focused on the UK's comprehensive and long-established Health and Safety laws, similar principles apply to many other jurisdictions in which we operate.
- Construction site
- Wood being transported as a suspended load by a telehandler
- Questionable weather conditions
- Lack of adequate risk assessment
- Driver competence not demonstrated
- Not following documented procedures
- The vehicle overturned, resulting in one fatality
- Driver prosecuted for Gross Negligence Manslaughter and Health and Safety at Work offences.
Gross Negligence Manslaughter (UK):
- Common law offence (case law sets the precedents)
- Reserved for the most serious of offences
- Prosecution against the individuals
- A duty of care existed
- That duty was breached
- Causation of fatality (or multiple)
- The failure (act or omission) was so reprehensible
- Prosecution must demonstrate a high burden of proof - beyond all reasonable doubt
- Conviction by a jury in a Crown court
- Penalties upon conviction - Custodial sentences
The key message to come out of this training was that a risk assessment is fundamental in planning and carrying out work. The risk assessment must be suitable and sufficient and reduce as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). If risks cannot be adequately mitigated, then the activity must not proceed, and risk assessments must be communicated to all involved and must be followed by everyone involved.
Health and Safety at Work Act - 1974
- Statute Law
- Prosecution against individuals and companies
- Multiple separate offences within the act
- No accident, injury or incident needs to occur, just that the risk exists.
- Once the HSE has demonstrated that the risk existed, the onus is on the defendant(s) to demonstrate that they have adequately managed it.
- Penalties include custodial sentences and significant fines