UK Supreme Court rules on enforcement notice appeal evidence
Thursday 15th February 2018
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Oil exploration company Chevron was served a prohibition notice in 2013 for corroded stairs and platform leading to a helideck on one of its offshore platforms, which a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector believed rendered the stairway unsafe.
Appealing successfully against the notice at an employment tribunal, Chevron relied on an expert inspection and test of the stairway it had commissioned after receiving the notice. The expert's report showed the metalwork passed British Standard strength test and was fit for use.
The HSE appealed the decision on the grounds that in a previous case, Hague v Rotary Yorkshire Ltd (2014), the Court of Appeal held that courts should not use hindsight in judging whether a notice was justified.
The latest judgment the Supreme Court ruled that a tribunal is entitled to take into account all available evidence, not just that that was available to the inspector when they decided to serve the notice.
Delivering the judgment on behalf of the court, Lady Black noted that inspectors should still serve notices if they believe it is necessary to ensure the safety of workers or others, since they will not always be able to wait for full investigation of the circumstances. She also noted that if a tribunal cancels a notice there is no implied criticism of the inspector. The appeal is an appeal against a notice, not against the inspector's opinion.
"The Supreme Court has cleared up the confusion about what evidence tribunals can consider in hearing appeals against notices," said Ian Wright, barrister at Five Paper chambers, who appeared as junior counsel at the Supreme Court hearing.
The Scottish Road Works Commissioner said the local authority had breached s 118 of Scotland’s New Roads and Street Works Act, which states that road works authorities must co-ordinate works safely with minimal disruption.
Organisations in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, the Nordic countries and southern Europe, such as Spain and Portugal, were also likely to have higher levels of good practice than those in other countries.
Grimsby Magistrates’ Court was told that the leak happened during a maintenance shutdown that takes place every four years. One of the planned tasks during the shutdown of processing units, pipework, vents and drains was the connection of a new 1 km-long butane line between two processing units.The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the contractor who connected the pipework had not checked the whole line to ensure it had been properly installed and all the valves were closed.
The group is seeking evidence from interested stakeholders until 2 March 2018, after which date it will consider the evidence and produce a report with recommendations on how to reduce the frequency of such accidents. The APPG, which was formed in October 2017, is chaired by Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss and sponsored by the Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association (PASMA) and Access Industry Forum (AIF).
National standards bodies (NSBs) voted on the final draft international standard (FDIS) in a ballot that ended on 25 January. It was approved by 93% of them, well above the 75% required for adoption.The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is currently considering comments for correction from several of the NSBs.News of the publication date follows a long and complex development process. The first draft was published in July 2014, however it received only 42 votes of approval during a May 2016 ballot and was redrafted.
The committee, a monitoring body of the 47-nation Council of Europe, ruled on 24 January that a change in UK law in 2015 which removed certain self-employed work from the HSW Act, breached the UK’s international obligations.Although the committee recognised that only those in relatively less risky work were not now covered by health and safety regulations, it added that the UK was failing to live up to its commitments in the charter.