Health and Safety

Matrix is experienced in advising and representing clients facing a range of Health and Safety investigations and prosecutions, from high profile corporate clients to sole directors and managers. The Health and Safety Executive is a well-established and proactive regulator that frequently investigates and prosecutes accidents that occur in the workplace, sometimes in conjunction with the police and CPS. The penalties can be very serious and high-quality advice and representation from an early stage in an HSE investigation can be essential.

Our barristers combine excellent client care and reputation management skills with first-class trial experience, including prosecutions brought under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 and the multitude of associated regulations including the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, Construction Design and Management Regulations, Work at Height Regulations, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. The team’s experience includes corporate manslaughter or gross negligence manslaughter cases, and other prosecutions arising out of fatal or non-fatal accidents. Equally, members are able to skilfully mitigate in appropriate cases, doing everything possible to keep sentences as low as possible.

The early instruction of Matrix’s Health and Safety team also enables specialist advice and representation in related proceedings. For example, representation in inquests is now even more important following the lowering of the standard of proof in unlawful killing cases, and the impact that such conclusions may have on the subsequent prosecution of directors and companies. Successful challenge to the HSE’s investigatory powers, or challenges to the exercise of police powers in investigations conducted under the Work-Related Deaths Protocol, can result in the proper limitation of the scope of any investigation.

Notable Cases

  • Judicial review challenge to search warrants and defending a prosecution following the death of two employees as a result of an explosion at a steelwork manufacturing plant;
  • Advising a national company in an investigation relating to an asbestos-related incident during renovations at one of its office premises;
  • Advising and representing a FTSE 250 company in relation to an investigation into its lone-worker policy, and judicial review challenge to its retention of stolen LPP material;
  • Defending a global military ejection seat manufacturer following a Red Arrows pilot who, prior to training drills, inadvertently ejected whilst parked on the runway and died when his ejection seat parachute failed to open;
  • Defending a lift maintenance company following the death of an elderly care home resident when an internal lift allegedly failed and crashed to the basement;
  • Defending a corporate owner of several amusement arcades when the brickwork on a parapet wall blew down in high winds, causing 7 tonnes of rubble to kill a passer-by on the High Street;
  • Defending a corporate macerator manufacturer charged following the death by electrocution of an engineer;
  • Defending a corporate client in Corporate Manslaughter charges arising from the death of a 93 year-old resident of a care home from scalds sustained during bathing;
  • Advising and representing in inquest proceedings a large corporate that employed cleaners in hospitals, following the death of one of its workers from Covid-19;
  • Defending an apple-farm manager for gross-negligence manslaughter, following the death of two farm workers he instructed to enter a zero-oxygen store to retrieve apples for a competition;
  • Advising the defence team in the first ever prosecution for gross-negligence manslaughter in Guernsey, when two psychiatric nurses failed to conduct 15-minute checks on a suicide-risk patient;
  • Defending a sole director in gross negligence manslaughter proceedings when two labourers died in a warehouse explosion caused by the ignition of flammable solvent vapours being used to clean floors.