Health & Safety

We’ve all got rights, as well as obligations, but sometimes people can forget about that in the first few vital hours, and even days after a major incident.

The Police, Health & Safety Executive, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Air Accident Investigation Branch and Rail Accident Investigation Branch as well as a number of other statutory agencies all have powers and roles to play, but the powers and roles they have and what they are entitled to isn’t always the same. They are also not necessarily entitled to share what the information they recover.

Establishing proper command and control on lines of communication at the earliest opportunity in an incident is hugely important to the proper management of it. Doing so allows everyone involved to have an appropriate place at which all these varying requests can be marshalled and considered. The question often asked is “Do I/we have to…?”. The answer is often yes, but what can often be forgotten is the words that follow such as “tell” “give” “show” etc.

Knowing who’s asking the questions and their powers and purpose should always be the starting point for answering that question. Co-operation with statutory agencies is generally not optional, but that co-operation doesn’t override the rights of an organisation or individuals within it and so care about who says what and gives what to whom should always be taken.

Duncan MacLean

Partner at Brodies LLP
Duncan is an experienced shipping, marine and transport lawyer who heads our team. His work covers a wide range of contentious and non-contentious across the shipping, marine and ports sectors.
Duncan MacLean