• Total Access Total Access Ethentic Ethentic
    Higher Safety Higher Safety Chipmunk Data Chipmunk Data

    SCOTLAND H&S PROSECUTION SYSTEM UNDER SCRUTINY

    Major concern over excessive delay in concluding prosecution cases

    The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is the sole prosecuting authority in Scotland and is also responsible for investigating sudden deaths and complaints against the police which are of a criminal nature.

    The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland (IPS) is the independent inspectorate for the COPFS and all IPS reports are be published. It has been reported by The New Scotsman that IPS Chief inspector Joe O’Donnell said of the latest report:

    “We found that the cases disposed of were of high quality, but our concern was the length of time taken to conclude them. Our recommendations, therefore, focus on ways to speed up the process.”

    Laura Cameron, of lawyers Pinsent Masons told the NS:

    “It is a traumatic experience for surviving victims, their families and witnesses who are caught up in a health and safety incident, and to have a case hanging over them for years adds to their stress.”

    The Crown Office said progress is being made and that significant enhancements have been made in the prosecution of health and safety cases since the division was established in 2009. 

    Work done to a high standard but prosecutions ‘taking years’

    The IPS report on the Health and Safety Division includes the following findings (bolding not in report):

    1.  The selection of the Health and Safety Division as a topic for inspection was made in the context of growing specialism within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (especially following the move to Federation working with function based work rather than geographical responsibility).
    2. Scotland’s current and previous Law Officers have been active in promoting greater specialisation and the Health and Safety Division seemed a suitable candidate to be made into a specialist unit. Accordingly the specialist Health and Safety Division was established in 2009. This mirrored greater specialisation on the part of defence lawyers especially in this field.
    3. The major conclusion is that the work completed by the division is done to a high standard and favourably commented on by many contributors to our report. The existence of the unit made for early meaningful discussions and good liaison with Health and Safety Executive and other reporting agencies.
    4. The apparent focus of the division is to obtain pleas of guilty, produce agreed narratives of events for court (commented favourably on by various sheriffs to whom we spoke) and thus potentially save court time. This also has the benefit of saving time and inconvenience to witnesses.
    5. The downside of this policy was, however, that few cases went to trial and the development of the law in Scotland in this area (and the experience of those in the unit) suffered as a result. The presumption appears to be to initially regard cases as suitable only of proceeding on indictment and we felt there could be better targeting of the simpler cases which could proceed in the summary courts rather than join a queue. An effective ‘triage’ system would be of benefit.
    6. Our major concern was the delay in concluding cases, several of which were several years old and the ‘time to clear’ figure of current work was increasing rather than decreasing. There has been growing public concern about delays in this field.
    7. We found there was some confusion about the type of case the new Health and Safety Division would take on board with potential confusing overlap with in particular the recently created Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit.
    8. Additionally the IT system was not configured to ‘direct’ health and safety cases to the unit and management information was sketchy. All of this contributed to lack of clarity, double handling and our biggest concern – delay in processing the cases. The normal IT and management tracking devices were largely absent with too much reliance on internal spreadsheets which were not always up to date.
    9. We also found staff turnover to be a matter of concern. This was high which we feel exacerbated the problem about delay. Many of the cases are complex and staff leaving mid-case led to inefficiency and delay as new members had to go over the same ground. Additionally the perfectly worthy attempt to create local geographical centres to deal with local cases was largely abandoned because of the need to give priority to certain types of cases irrespective of where the staff were located.
    10. We took the view (and so recommend) that greater use could be made of existing staff especially those at fairly senior grades. Increased delegation to these staff of crucial decision making would speed up the process and improve the job satisfaction of those involved. Although praise worthy in concept the need for all cases to be channelled into a single decision point inevitably led to delay and in some cases meant action could no longer be taken because of the time taken to approve of decisions.
    11. The perception of the unit by outside agencies including the Health and Safety Executive is generally very good. No-one doubts the commitment of those involved. However, delay was a major cause of concern for some especially victims and next of kin. The Victim Information and Advice Officer in Health and Safety Division did a very good job of keeping them informed but it was too frequently on the basis of no real progress.
    12. We make 38 recommendations mainly intended to speed up disposal of cases with better use of existing resources and with better management information and tracking.

    Latest Construction Health and Safety News

    HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 13th JUNE 2018

    hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices register latest version

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 13th June 2018

    DIRECTOR FAILED COMPLY WITH HSE PROHIBITION

    Precautions not taken to prevent excavation collapse and falling

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 11th June 2018

    SCAFFOLD NOT TO INDUSTRY STANDARD OR DESIGN

    Specialist and contractor in court over unsafe work at height

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 7th June 2018

    ROAD WORKER RUN OVER BY ROAD ROLLER

    Reversing alarm not working and warning light not fitted

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 5th June 2018

    CLIENT AND SURVEYOR FINED OVER ASBESTOS SURVEY

    Refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey proved inadequate

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 5th June 2018

    FATALITY: ROAD WORKER DRAGGED ALONG ROAD

    Night shift worker loses life when struck by road sweeping vehicle

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 3rd June 2018

    CDM PRINCIPAL DESIGNERS AVOID HSE ENFORCEMENT

    Regulator enforcement database reveals few notices involve CDM PDs

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 3rd June 2018

    PROPERTY MANAGERS FINED WITH CONTRACTOR

    Defendants failed to check for asbestos during soffit replacement works

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 29th May 2018

    EXCAVATION CAUSED RETAINING WALL COLLAPSE

    Precautions not taken to secure stability of free-standing wall

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 29th May 2018

    OVERHEAD CABLE STRIKE FIRM FINED £500,000+

    Inadequate system caused risk of harm despite lack of worker injury

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 29th May 2018

    CDM 2015 PRINCIPAL DESIGNER FINED OVER FIRE RISK

    PD and PC failed to comply with CDM 2015 responsibilities

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 23rd May 2018

    SENTENCING GUIDELINES UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

    Lawyer argues guidelines undermine reduction in ‘regulatory burden’

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 23rd May 2018

    PANEL STRUCK WORKMAN DURING LIFTING OPERATION

    Third party contractor falls victim of poor lift planning

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st May 2018

    DIRECTOR LED HAZARDOUS WORK AT HEIGHT

    Three occasions when work lacked suitable and sufficient precautions

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st May 2018

    RISK ASSESSED BUT CONTROLS FOUND WANTING

    Joiner fell through unprotected opening on roof of new building

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st May 2018

    RIBA CRITICAL OF HACKITT REVIEW FINAL REPORT

    High rise residential review dismissed as “major missed opportunity”

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st May 2018

    CONSTRUCTION SECTOR DEATHS: THE ‘BIG THREE’

    HSE in-year fatalities for 2017/18 may indicate upward trend

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 16th May 2018

    SCAFFOLDING SITE ACCIDENTS AT RECORD LOW

    NASC Annual Report reveals all time low in 2017 incidents

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 14th May 2018

    DUMPER TRUCK HAND-BRAKE NOT MAINTAINED

    Workman injured when pinned against stack of concrete blocks

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 14th May 2018

    SPARE POWER INTERLOCK KEY CAUSED DEATH

    Dangerous machinery safety precautions defeated for maintenance tasks

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 10th May 2018

    COLLAPSED CAR PARK WAS UNDER REPAIR

    Rusted steel supports triggered collapse of fascia and floor

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 8th May 2018

    DUMPER OVERTURN CAUSED FATAL INJURIES

    Precautions during spoil heap creation were inadequate

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 8th May 2018

    HARDWOOD DUST CONTROL NOT MAINTAINED

    Manufacturer failed to examine and test local extraction system

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 8th May 2018

    SCAFFOLD CONTRACTOR OVERLOOKED MAJOR HAZARD

    Well-known risk unidentified during scaffold erection project

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 8th May 2018

    THREE FIRMS FINED £1/2M FOR FRAGILE RISK FAILURES

    Fall through rooflight hazard poorly planned and managed

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 2nd May 2018
    Total Access Total Access Ethentic Ethentic
    Higher Safety Higher Safety Chipmunk Data Chipmunk Data