immediate release, 1 October 2007

Press Release

Universities of Strathclyde and Stirling expert report group

Experts call on ICL/Stockline inquiry to probe regulators

The Independent group of experts that produced the ICL/Stockline disaster report welcome the announcement of a public inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act

We believe that the inquiry should be chaired by a senior Scottish judge and look at all the relevant agencies involved with regulating and inspecting the ICL/Stockline plant. Such agencies must therefore include

• the HSE, including all its relevant sections that address occupational health and safety matters, and the HSC with its policy role including the under-funding of HSE and the recent dramatic reductions in inspections. This should include a relevant and targeted review of HSE monitoring of duty holders following enforcement action, the impact of the “Better Regulation” policies that may have impacted on HSE inspectors, and a review of the measures that are needed to secure COSHH compliance.

• the local authority in terms of sitting of factories which use or used large amounts of LPG and/or toxic chemicals; and in terms of its role in consenting to and checking building alterations and structural integrity

• the Fire Brigade with its duties to inspect premises in terms of such things as fire safety, fire exits and general fire precautions.

The enquiry should also examine:-

• the role of consultants who advise SMEs like ICL on health, safety, maintenance, construction and other related matters

• the effectiveness of fines as a deterrent in cases like ICL where limited liability serves to protect owner managers from personal financial or other penalties.

• failures of enforcement action, short of prosecution, to act as a deterrent on companies which breach laws ands receive prohibition and improvement notices prior to fatalities and serious injuries to their workers.

• the role of Company Law and Financial Accounting Standards in permitting the use of unaudited, abbreviated accounts in the ICL. Case

• how whistleblowers in workplaces such as ICL may be better protected.

• How to inform and advise and support employees on health and safety matters in a firm like ICL which was not unionised
The enquiry should not be protracted. However, it would not be in the interests of those directly connected to the tragedy nor the general public if its proceedings did not ensure that both the superficial and underlying causes of the disaster and the means to prevent such occurrences in the future in other similar workplaces in Scotland, were not properly identified

For further information, contact Andrew Watterson, Stirling University
Tel 01786-466283 or mobile 07966161401