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Workplace fatality management

13 September 2018

STACY KEEN, Senior Associate at Pinsent Masons, today told delegates at Health and Safety Scotland that preparation is key to managing a fatality or major incident in the workplace.

“It’s quite a heavy topic discussing fatalities at 930 in the morning,” Keen began, adding that “organisations should prepare for the worst” when pre-empting such circumstances.

The Glasgow audience were given advice based around an internal investigation, and externally; on how to deal with the raft of third parties, such as The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Police, press and family.

Despite there being no express legal duty to do so, Keen urged organisations to carry out an investigation for strategic and moral reasons. “You want to understand from a strategy perspective what went wrong,” she explained, “in terms of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and the moral reason for corporate responsibility and ensuring that this never happens again, whether it be a serious injury or fatality.”

Reminding delegates of RIDDOR, which triggers HSE notification, Keen explained the Police may supersede this if, for example, manslaughter is suspected. ““Once this has been ruled out, they will then hand the matter over to the HSE to lead on the investigation.” 

Once the investigation is brought internally investigated Keen outlined the suggested stages of the process including: reporting; fact gathering, analysing and information, identifying risk control measures, implementing remedial actions and report writing. “We’re looking to describe the mechanics of the incident on a factual basis, which may require technical and expert analysis, and we’re looking at facts here, not opinions or speculation, that actually led to the death,” she said.