Lawyers warning of HSE crackdown in Scotland

SCOTTISH businesses including manufacturers and builders are falling foul of health and safety rules, with enforcement actions on course to jump 38 per cent in the first six months of this year.

Analysis out today from law firm Pinsent Masons of figures published by the Health & Safety Executive show the body issued 473 “improvement” or “prohibition” notices in Scotland the first five months of 2012.

That compares to 411 in the first six months of 2011 and, on a monthly average basis, would lead to an increase of 38 per cent during the first half of this year.

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The figures are in stark contrast to the English regions, particularly in London where enforcement actions have fallen sharply to 393 in the first half of 2012 from 739 in the same six months of 2011.

It is likely the news will concern manufacturing and construction businesses – both sectors battered by the double-dip recession – which accounted for 50 and 42 per cent respectively of all enforcement actions in the UK in the first half of 2012.

Laura Cameron, a regulatory specialist at Pinsent Masons, said: “The significant increase in actions in Scotland is striking.”

The HSE is due to introduce a new charging system in the autumn under which it will be able to charge to recover the costs of investigations and enforcement measures where an offence has occurred.