Chevron offshore installation: prohibition notice: appeal on facts
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Case HM Inspector of Health & Safety v Chevron North Sea Ltd (2016) Scottish Inner House 29
Facts A prohibition notice was served on Chevron (C ), the operators of an offshore installation. The main access to the installation was by helicopter. Access to the helipad was by stairways which led to staging around the perimeter of the helipad. In April 2013 an HSE inspector visited the installation. He identified significant corrosion on the stairways and served a prohibition notice on the basis that the stairways were unsafe and that their use would involve a risk of serious personal injury.
The installation manager undertook that remedial work would be carried out immediately and that the stairways would not be used until it was completed. C arranged for the stairways to be taken to Exova for testing. The test concluded that the stairways complied with British Standards. C appealed against the prohibition order. The HSE objected to the admission of the Exova test in evidence. The employment tribunal cancelled the notice. Evidence which had arisen after the notice could be taken into account. The condition of the stairways was not such as to pose a risk of serious personal injury. The HSE appealed to the Scottish Inner House.
Decision 1. The appeal was dismissed.
An appeal against a prohibition notice was not confined to points of law. An appeal on the facts was equally open.
Bearing in mind the effect which a prohibition notice might have on an operator’s business, it would be strange if an operator could not mount a successful appeal based upon the simple contention that whatever the inspector thought at the time based on the information before him, it was now known that the risk did not exist.
This analysis had no bearing upon an inspector’s ability to act in the interests of health and safety when he formed the opinion that a risk existed. The emergence of new material to negate the risk did not in itself invalidate the notice or its effect at the time.