Fake Trial to be staged by HSE for building safety professionals


In these columns we often report upon the court cases that are brought by the Health & Safety Executive: and building safety professionals and contractors alike have good reason to fear having to make appearances at such trials, when they are likely to be subjected to examination and prosecution. Now the HSE and other partners have decided to show construction managers what the process really feels like.

They have decided to stage a show trial in the Midlands – but it is not for real. However, it gives an opportunity for principal contractors and subcontractors to learn what happens in court – thus what they could be in for if things go wrong on site in health and safety terms.

The venue is the University of Wolverhampton Science Park, and the event takes place on Wednesday 17 September – so if you want to go, you had better act now. It is free to attend. The contact is Dee Welsh at HSE (0121 607 6129, dee.welsh@hse.gsi.gov.uk). The official deadline has passed but it is worth contacting her to see if places are still available.

Joint Initiative

The West Midlands Working Well Together group has taken the lead in this initiative, and they are supported by:

  • HSE
  • Birmingham Health, Safety and Environment Association
  • Law firm Pinsent Masons

They have chosen to depict one of the most common scenarios: a fall from height by a site worker who is badly injured whilst working for a painters and decorators, on a building refurbishment scheme. Both the subcontractor and its director are put on trial.

It promises to be an eye-opener for those who have never had to experience the legal process at work – a real magistrate will hear the case and will adjudicate, while genuine lawyers will act of the prosecution and defence.

Have your say

What is not typical of real life is that there will be some interactivity in the process: the audience in court will have their opportunity to give opinions on whether the company or the director are guilty or not.

There will be a post-trial question and answer session and a chance to debate the verdict.

As one inspector was quoted as saying:

Protecting the health and safety of employees is an essential part of risk management. It’ll be a real eye opener for those attending, giving a detailed insight into what happens when someone has to answer to the courts because a worker has been injured.

McCormack Benson Health & Safety, as leading construction health and safety consultants, support such educational initiatives and we hope that this will be well supported. Other areas of the country will doubtless want to follow suit.