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Legal small print leaves consultants vulnerable


IGNORANCE OF the legal wording of the Health & Safety at Work Act is leaving consultants vulnerable to criminal conviction for accidents on the jobs they are designing, a leading construction solicitor warned this week.

errymans Lace Mawer partner Michael Salau said that many consultants were 'totally unaware' that sections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) requires them to prove all 'reasonably practicable' steps have been taken to protect workers from foreseeable risk.

'This reverses the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defendant, ' he said.

Salau's warning came after his client, consultant Lindsay Barr, was found guilty under section 3(2) (NCE 3 February). Salau added that consultants face the added diffi ulty of convincing lay juries that their designs were the best reasonably practicable solution.

Many lay jurors do not understand the different roles and responsibilities of consultants, clients, contractors and subcontractors.

Nor do they understand the processes involved in construction, or that construction is always, to a greater or lesser degree, a risky activity, Salau added.

Barr is the fi st designer to be successfully prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) under the Health & Safety at Work Act rather than the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations.

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