Workplace Report October 2008

Health & safety - HSE Monitor

Special health and safety prosecutor for Scotland

The Scottish TUC has welcomed the announcement that a new specialist division is to be set up within the legal system in Scotland to prosecute employers who commit health and safety offences.

The Lord Advocate in Scotland announced this month that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service would establish a specialist division to deal with occupational safety cases.

The STUC said it supported the proposals “wholeheartedly”. Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said: “Our experience of dealing with families who have paid the ultimate price of health and safety failures, the loss of loved ones, is that there would be comfort in knowing that a dedicated team of specialist prosecutors were committed to investigating the fatal event as swiftly as possible and making sure the case against any potential accused was expertly prepared.”

The STUC believes that these new arrangements will lead to greater consistency in, and more effective prosecution of, health and safety cases. The STUC has previously been concerned about competing demands on the prosecution service and the impact complex health and safety cases can have on the workload of Procurators Fiscal.

Smith added: “This new Division must also ensure that families receive frequent updates and progress reports during the often lengthy investigation process and during any court proceedings.”