This guidance is designed to promote consistency across HSE and enable specialists to function more effectively, either as investigators with specialist knowledge or as independent expert witnesses.
The guidance applies to all specialists in HSE when providing specialist advice, or giving a specialist opinion, in support of investigations.
The guidance applies equally to England, Wales and Scotland. Whilst the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the Criminal Procedures & Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA), do not apply in Scotland, the equivalent principles and procedures should be followed.It does not apply to the provision of specialist advice/opinion in the context of safety case assessment.
In this guidance, a specialist is acting:
either as an investigator with specialist knowledge, who:
or as an independent expert witness, who:
The investigating officer is the person in overall charge of the investigation
HSE has a paramount responsibility to safeguard health and safety.
The specialist’s primary role is as an investigator.
The role of investigator and expert witness are usually mutually exclusive and a specialist inspector is unlikely to be appointed as an independent expert if he/she becomes directly involved in the investigation.
The decision as to whether an 'independent expert' is required and who it should be rests with the person responsible for assessing the evidence on behalf of HSE, so a specialist must not assume the role of an 'independent expert' at the outset.
It is HSE’s policy that unless otherwise advised, specialists should not hold back from becoming involved in incident investigations because of concerns relating to their position as an 'expert' being compromised.
Specialists acting as investigators should use their specialist knowledge to safeguard health and safety whilst assisting the investigation.Specialists acting as independent experts are appointed on behalf of the court to provide opinion evidence on matters that fall within their particular area of expertise.
As an investigator with specialist knowledge, the specialist will:
As an independent expert, the specialist will:
As an investigating officer:
Line managers should ensure, via normal management activity, that those involved in operating this procedure carry out their responsibilities in line with the standards and timescales described. They should make sufficient documented checks to satisfy themselves, and to prove to any subsequent audits, that the procedure is being operated correctly.