Where an incident happens, you will undoubtedly want to investigate to establish the cause of the incident, so that lessons can be learned and enhancements made. In some instances, investigation will be needed so that legal advice can be taken on potential legal consequences, and in contemplation of civil and/or criminal legal proceedings.
The scope and "dominant" purpose of any investigation must be clearly understood from the outset.
Your internal and external legal teams should be involved in both the decision to carry out an investigation and the investigation itself.
When carrying out an internal investigation, remember:
- That any documents created after an incident, including emails, might become disclosable to third parties, such as the HSE or in civil proceedings at a later date, unless those documents are properly covered by legal privilege.
- Simply writing on documents or emails ‘legally privileged’ does not protect the document. Nor does simply copying in a lawyer.
You might want to develop an incident response protocol so the relevant people in your business know how to react in the event of an incident. We can advise you on this and on how to carry out your investigation effectively and to protect the business at the same time.
For more information on investigations see our Advice for employers.
If you require further legal advice on how to avoid a health and safety incident or on what to do should one occur, then please contact a Pinsent Masons Health and Safety specialist. If you need immediate assistance, then please call us now.