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Fatal accidents are often caused through inadequate health and safety procedures, or individual negligence. However, despite a company’s best endeavours, accidents do occur. Fatal accidents will always lead to an extensive investigation by the regulator. Companies need to establish a strategy, with the help of a qualified and experienced legal advisor under the protection of legal privilege, and stick to it.

What Will Happen?

Shortly after any serious accident on a work site, the Health and Safety Executive and the police are likely to attend the site. The police and HSE will carry out an initial investigation, with the police taking the lead and ensuring that they have possession of all relevant documentation.

The police will have initial conduct of the investigation in order to investigate for corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter offences. Should the police investigation not result in any charges, the HSE will start an investigation in relation to health and safety offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Any death at work will result in a Coroner’s Inquest with a jury. The Coroner will hand down a verdict following all evidence in the matter being adduced. The Inquest is likely to be attended by the family of the deceased, a representative of the HSE and the press.

Should the investigation continue, a representative of the company may be invited to an interview under caution. Both the HSE and the police have powers to conduct an interview under caution. All evidence, including that provided at the interview under caution, will then be considered when deciding whether or not to prosecute the company and/or any individuals.

How Can We Help?

We have experienced health and safety lawyers who can provide advice on every stage of the process. The immediate aftermath of an incident is a vital period of time. Our lawyers can draft a bespoke Crisis Response Plan for a fixed fee. Having a Crisis Response Plan in place prior to any accident will ensure that as much of the stress as possible is taken away if an incident does occur.

You should always consider the effect that an accident can have on your whole business. We can liaise with relevant stakeholders to ensure the correct media and employee engagement. We can also assist in any correspondence with insurers, where appropriate, to establish whether the insurance policy will cover legal fees incurred.

Who Should You Contact?

If you would like any assistance in relation to an accident on site, or for the preparation of a Crisis Response Plan, please contact Emma Windle.


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