Health & Safety

“…taking no chances in their quest for excellence”.

Health & Safety Set of the Year – Chambers UK Bar Awards [2018]

“A highly regarded regulatory set with a vast offering across the health and safety and related regulatory law fields”.

Chambers UK Bar Guide [2019]

“…impressive in the field with substantial strength in depth at all levels”.

Legal 500 [2019]

“At Six Pump Court, ‘there is not a lot that the high-calibre health and safety barristers have not handled’”.

“Six Pump Court is ‘the best regulatory chambers in the UK and remains the professionals’ choice’”.

Legal 500 [2017]


Health and safety barristers at Six Pump Court act for a wide variety of individuals, businesses and other entities accused of breach of statutory duty, breach of regulations and/or manslaughter.  They also advise upon and conduct prosecutions for the Health and Safety Executive, the Office of Rail Regulation, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, local authorities, fire and rescue services and other enforcement bodies.  For a list of the ten members of chambers who are Standing Counsel to HSE and ORR or on the Regulatory List to prosecute their cases, click here.

For more detail on work in relation to enforcement notices, click here.

Our health and safety barristers also offer strategic advice: for details click here if you are an enforcement authority and click here if you are facing potential enforcement action.

Construction

Workplace Safety

Care and Educational Safety

Leisure and Sports Safety

Rail Safety

Maritime Safety

Oil, Gas, Electricity & Major Accident Hazards

Fire Safety

 

Construction

Construction accidents continue to account for a lion’s share of the fatal and serious accidents investigated by HSE each year.  Members of Six Pump Court advise and represent those involved in all types of construction accident, including:

  • Construction, Design and Management issues, with considerable experience in the issues arising from shared workplaces, sub-contractual relations and divided responsibilities, both between contractors and between separate individuals.  Besides offering representation in court, members of Six Pump Court have advised upon the implications of the sometimes complex Construction, Design and Management Regulations.
  • Falls from height on construction sites.
  • Structural collapse during construction or demolition, including cases requiring expert civil engineering evidence, such as the tunnel collapse over the railway at Gerrards Cross and the quadruple fatality when structural steel trapped construction workers in Claxton Engineering’s Great Yarmouth yard.
  • Asbestos contamination: this is a growing area, with in the last year more than 30 times as many people dying from asbestos-related diseases as died from workplace safety failures. Whilst this reflects the slow incubation period from past exposures, efforts to curb future exposures have led to cases being prosecuted and defended with greater vigour than before. Members of 6 Pump Court are experienced in the courtroom issues, and can also advise on related questions of environmental waste management and of licensing.

Click here for details of work on inquests.

Click here for details of work on personal injury claims.

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Workplace Safety

Our health and safety law barristers have taken and defended prosecutions brought by HSE and local authorities relating to all aspects of workplace safety, both as it affects the employer’s own workforce and as it impacts upon the members of the public served or affected by the employer’s undertaking, and whether the accused is the business as a whole or an individual employee said to be at fault.

Types of accident covered include:

  • Falls through and from fragile roofs and elsewhere from a height in the workplace, both by workers and visitors, with prosecutions including the conviction of British Telecom for allowing the use of inadequate ladders by engineers in a telephone exchange.
  • Slips, trips and falls.
  • Workplace transport, with members of chambers involved in cases involving poor traffic management, poor reversing procedures and poor vehicle maintenance in relation to buses, heavy lorries, forklifts and other commercial vehicles.
  • Unsafe lifting operations, with prosecutions including the conviction of Tate & Lyle when a man died during unsafe attempts to unload a bulk sugar carrier.
  • Mechanical failure, especially in manufacturing and factory settings (for fairground rides see our leisure safety section).
  • Electrical shock, with cases including instances of electrocution during botched maintenance or because of bad maintenance or the use of inappropriate equipment.
  • Legionella: members of chambers have acted in some of the highest profile and most complex cases of recent years, from R v Beckingham [2006] EWCA Crim 773 to the multiple deaths and infections at Basildon Hospital.

Types of workplace covered include:

  • Manufacturing, with cases of faulty machines, unguarded machines (in-running nips) and inappropriately used machines.
  • Retail, with safety representation and advice offered for and against national retailers, including Tesco and Morrison.  For details of food and other consumer work for other retails such as Poundland and Costco, click here.
  • Hotels, leisure centres, swimming pools, racetracks and fairgrounds: see our Leisure Safety section.
  • Schools, nurseries and other providers of childcare and education: see our Care and Educational Safety section.
  • Hospitals, care homes and residential homes: see our Care and Educational Safety section.

Click here for details of work on inquests.

Click here for details of work on personal injury claims.

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Care and Educational Safety

Our health and safety barristers are often asked to advise upon and conduct cases relating to hospitals, care homes, residential homes, sheltered housing, schools and nurseries where the vulnerable nature of those being looked after often poses particular safety management problems.  Examples include:

  • Fires and fire safety in institutions including day and boarding schools and homes for the elderly.
  • Falls of undersupervised demented or confused patients/residents from overly open windows of hospitals, care homes, residential homes and sheltered housing.
  • Serious and fatal burns sustained by elderly patients too weak to move when falling against unguarded radiators and hot water pipes in care and residential homes.
  • Management and supervision of those suffering from dementia or other mental health problems whose own perception of risk (for example of setting oneself alight trying to smoke a cigarette or of pulling down and being crushed by heavy furniture) is heavily compromised.
  • Suffocation of disabled patient entrapped in inappropriately sized bed rails.
  • Management of legionella in water systems, including the multiple deaths and infections from legionella at Basildon Hospital.

For details of work related to defective medical devices, click here.

For details of work relating to professional discipline of medical and educational staff, click here.

Click here for details of work on inquests.

Click here for details of work on personal injury claims.

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Leisure and Sports Safety

Hotels, leisure centres, health clubs, swimming pools, sports grounds, racetracks and fairgrounds present a variety of hazards and prosecutions increasingly result where paying members of the public are killed or injured in the course of activities undertaken for fun.  Our health and safety barristers have extensive experience of acting for and against the enforcement authorities (both HSE and local authorities), whether the shortcomings alleged are of a business or an individual, and bring to bear their wide knowledge of differing hazards to the particular leisure context, for example:

  • Crowd control in sports grounds – including acting for the Football Association in the new inquest into the multiple crush deaths at the Hillsborough Stadium
  • Fire hazards in hotels
  • Drownings in swimming pools
  • Improper mixing of pool chemicals
  • Collisions at race tracks
  • Mechanical failures of fairground equipment

Click here for details of work on inquests.

Click here for details of work on personal injury claims.

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Rail Safety 

Our health and safety barristers include two of the four standing counsel to the Office of Rail Regulation, have extensive experience in rail safety matters, including:

  • Potters Bar disaster: high speed train derailed on poorly maintained track, killing seven and injuring 76.
  • Hednesford double fatality: reversing train delivering replacement rails struck and killed two maintenance workers.
  • Thames HS1 Tunnel double fatality: exploding locomotive killed two workers during construction of a tunnel.
  • Gerrards Cross structural collapse: ongoing investigation into partial collapse onto live track of arches to hold new supermarket above the track.
  • Numerous other cases for and against Network Rail, contractors such as Carillion, Transport for London and London Underground.

Click here for details of work on inquests and public inquiries.

Click here for details of work on personal injury claims.

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Maritime Safety 

Members of Six Pump Court have extensive experience in maritime and other water safety matters, including:

  • The Pride of Bilbao manslaughter case, in which a watch officer of a cross-channel ferry was accused in relation to the deaths of three yachtsmen on a vessel the ferry was said to have run down.
  • The Shark (R. v. Hooktone and another) fire case, in which companies involved in the operation of an unsafe Anglo-Spanish trawler were convicted following a catastrophic fire which led to Anglo-Irish Navy and coastguard intervention and the helicopter evacuation of the crew at sea.
  • The James Prior barge, in which a prosecution was brought for the Port of London Authority against the master of a barge which struck Battersea Bridge, causing such severe damage that it was closed for four months.
  • The Sardinia Vera (R. v. Forship S.p.a. and Newhaven Port and Properties) in which a cross-channel ferry operator was summonsed from Italy to appear with the English port operator to answer and ultimately to be fined for unsafe procedures for taking on water and the unsafe state of the dockside.
  • R v Port of Tilbury, in which a port operator was fined after the young son of a worker was killed whilst being given a ride on a forklift truck.
  • R v Tate & Lyle, in which a shipper of sugar was fined for unsafe procedures for unloading a bulk carrier, which led to the death of a worker.
  • Numerous other cases for and against the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for unsafe practices at sea.
  • Coastal safety, including the death of Charlotte Furness-Smith when trapped in a cave by the sea whilst ‘coasteering’.
  • Numerous other cases for and against the HSE for unsafe practices in and around dockyards. Numerous cases involving drowning in canals, rivers, lakes and other inland waterways.

For cases involving swimming pools, see Leisure Safety.

Click here for details of work on inquests and public inquiries.

Click here for details of work on personal injury claims.

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Oil, Gas, Electricity & Major Accident Hazards

Six Pump Court’s health and safety barristers have been involved in recent years in the full range of safety work relating to the utilities industries and other major accident hazards, from the most serious systemic failures through to instances of inattention by individual gas and electrical fitters and maintenance workers.  Cases have included:

  • The Buncefield explosion, in which large quantities of overflowing fuel at an oil storage depot ignited, causing the biggest explosion in the UK in at least 30 years and resulting in widespread property damage.
  • The Humber Oil Refinery explosion, in which igniting Liquefied Petroleum Gas caused injuries and major property damage.
  • The Lindsey Oil Refinery explosion, in which two pipe fitters were killed after the wrong stretch of pipe was cut open during maintenance, allowing fuel to escape.
  • R v UK Power Networks (No. 1), in which a worker died by electrocution when assisting in the unsafe replacement of a 11,000V transformer which was left live during the process.
  • R v UK Power Networks (No. 2), in which an engineer died after being doused in superheated burning oil spilling out of equipment used to regulate a 132,000V transformer and in which the fire shut down power to much of Chelmsford.
  • R v Wallop Defence Systems, where a fatality resulted from the explosion of nitroglycerine during the production of flares.
  • Salt Union Ltd v Health and Safety Executive [2012] EWHC 2611, where challenge was made by a neighbouring landowner to HSE’s acceptance of a report for the purposes of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations.

This is an important area in which Six Pump Court offers confidential strategic advice: for details click here if you are an enforcement authority and click here if you are facing potential enforcement action.

Click here for details of work in relation to utility consumer protection issues, such as the cases which led to multi-million pound regulator’s fines for Scottish and Southern Electricity and for NPower.

Click here for details of work on inquests.

Click here for details of work on personal injury claims.

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Fire Safety

Cases conducted by our health and safety barristers frequently involve issues of fire safety and/or explosions, whether those cases are directly for or against fire and rescue authorities or in the course of proceedings arising from the investigations of other enforcement bodies. Examples include:

  • The Buncefield explosion, in which large quantities of overflowing fuel at an oil storage depot ignited, causing the biggest explosion in the UK in at least 30 years and resulting in widespread property damage.
  • R v British Sugar, in which a man was killed in a large boiler explosion, the causes of which generated exceptionally complex expert evidence
  • Defences of and advice to hoteliers, publicans, managing agents, schools and retailers faced with enforcement action in relation to alleged fire safety failures said to have put the public at risk of death.
  • The Shark (R v Hooktone and another) fire case, in which companies involved in the operation of an unsafe Anglo-Spanish trawler were convicted upon prosecution by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency following a catastrophic fire which led to Anglo-Irish Navy and coastguard intervention and the helicopter evacuation of the crew at sea.
  • Thames HS1 Tunnel double fatality: exploding locomotive killed two workers during construction of a tunnel (investigated by HSE).
  • R v Wallop Defence Systems, where a fatality resulted from the explosion of nitroglycerine during the production of flares.
  • R v UK Power Networks (No. 2), in which an engineer died after being doused in superheated burning oil spilling out of equipment used to regulate a 132,000V transformer and in which the fire shut down power to much of Chelmsford.
  • The Humber Oil Refinery explosion, in which igniting Liquefied Petroleum Gas caused injuries and major property damage.
  • The Lindsey Oil Refinery explosion, in which two pipe fitters were killed after the wrong stretch of pipe was cut open during maintenance, allowing fuel to escape.

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