News release

ICL/Stockline Disaster report authors welcome Prospect's call for full enquiry
ICL/Stockline Disaster report authors, 27 September 2007

The researchers who produced the independent report into the circumstances surrounding the ICL/Stockline disaster welcome and endorse the call by Prospect, the trade union which represents HSE employees, for a full public enquiry.

We specifically note, welcome and support the Prospect view that:-

1. "a public inquiry should focus on the key issues affecting the performance of the HSE in Scotland and across Great Britain, to inform any changes needed to ensure the best health and safety protection for workers".

2. “In particular the debate ...should not scapegoat individuals constrained by public policy but should concentrate on improving the effectiveness of the HSE” .

3. “The government needs to accept responsibility for placing a greater focus on funding than effectiveness - the victims of Stockline deserve nothing less.”

We are very alarmed at the additional points made by Prospect that the "HSE has been forced to cut back on staff numbers and training, close offices and prioritise work on risks causing the greatest numbers of injuries in the workplace as it chases reductions outlined by Public Service Agreement targets. These priorities are slips and trips, workplace transport, falls from height and musculoskeletal disorders. Since 2003, HSE inspectors are under instructions to look just at these issues during inspections. Unless “matters of evident concern” are raised they cannot use their experience and discretion to look into other risks such as fire and explosion risks, structural safety and dangerous machinery".

We share Prospect's concerns about these serious and damaging developments since 2003, affecting the capacity of HSE inspectors in the field to carry out all necessary risk assessments in workplaces that they visit, and believe that such matters should be addressed fully in a public enquiry

The HSE has stated in a letter to us that they expect the Inquiry in Public into the ICL/Stockline explosion to"promote transparency and build confidence in the HSE's investigative process." The only way that this aim can be met is if the Inquiry includes a full and transparent investigation into the role of the HSE in Scotland. In order that this can be achieved, the Inquiry in Public which is due to be announced by the Lord Advocate before the end of September must be led by a senior Scottish Judge.

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