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Small firms need independent safety audits say police

SMALL CONSTRUCTION businesses should order independent safety audits of their operations to limit the risk of manslaughter prosecutions following fatal accidents, a senior police officer said this week.

Inspector Alex Bunning of Devon & Cornwall Constabulary made the comments after he successfully prosecuted a company boss for the manslaughter of an apprentice following an explosion on site.

'Small companies are more liable to be prosecuted for this type of offence. The boss is more likely to be hands on so it is possible to prove the link between him and an incident, ' he said.

Alan Mark, managing director of Plymouth based Nationwide Heating Systems, was jailed for a year last week after being found responsible for the death of 21 year old apprentice Ben Pinkham.

Pinkham died following an explosion when highly flammable acetone he was using to clean a resin tank ignited. He was using a halogen lamp which was unsuitable for working in potentially explosive environments.

'I would advise small companies to spend money on an independent health and safety advisor who can review their processes, ' said Bunning. 'Then if there is a tragic incident they can say they had sought advice.

'It is no good having a comprehensive health and safety plan if you don't stick to it. It may look good on paper but unless you follow it you can be in trouble.'

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