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Tristan Hallam: Awards for Health and Safety Excellence

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

I read with interest in the Press recently (York Press – 18th April 2011) of Shepherd Construction who won a silver award for health and safety management systems and their commitment to "continuous improvement in an accident and ill health prevention."

I have written previously about the Health & Safety Executive and cutting corners.Awards such as those given out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) provide recognition for those companies that actually make the effort to ensure that health and safety is improved upon.

It is of course of benefit for companies to make an effort.  Not only is it right and proper that they do so from a moral stand point but also from a legal perspective given the requirement that they have, both under common law and under Health and Safety at Work Regulations in statute.It is right to say that the companies benefit in addition.

Insurance companies  provide cover in return for payment of premiums, but also advise their insured and carry out regular checks to ensure that their insurance is complying with Regulations and that their ‘risk’ is thereby reduced.

We cannot of course rely upon insurance companies to carry out such checks.  They are not always able to do so with the required frequency and there is no guarantee that their insured would comply with their recommendations in any event.

I have in mind a matter which I am dealing with at present where a large firework factory exploded.The insurance company for the factory had attended no more than a few weeks earlier and issued a number of recommendations.  These were not complied with by the insured and my point therefore is that whilst checks and recommendations can be made, it is down to the Health and Safety Executive to enforce any recommendations that they specifically make and they have the enforcement powers to do so.

Well done to Shepherd Construction.  It is of course the companies that do not win awards that we should all be concerned about.

Tristan Hallam is a Principal Lawyer in Personal Injury in the London office of Slater and Gordon. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.