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HSE Principal Inspector Cheryl Anthony's response to the "Landowner faces prosecution" story in The Scotsman

Dear Sir

I refer to your story "Landowner faces prosecution" (October 11), and the criticism of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for conducting an investigation into the death of a man who was killed by a falling tree at Castle Forbes, Aberdeenshire last year.

Duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act only apply when people are at work or in a workplace, and the act does not create duties on householders in domestic premises such as gardens.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigates the circumstances of deaths arising from work activities, whether the individual was a worker or a member of the public. James Bremner died on a working estate.

The police investigate deaths at work until they eliminate serious offences such as culpable homicide. Once the police had completed their own enquiries into the circumstances, they passed the matter to HSE to investigate. When the HSE investigation is complete, a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal, which is normal procedure in such circumstances.

Although we cannot comment on an individual case during an ongoing investigation, we do know that forestry, and tree felling in particular, is one of the most hazardous work activities, in terms of deaths and injuries in the UK. We make no apology for investigating this tragedy, and for considering whether there are lessons to be learned.

Once the matter has been concluded, HSE will be in a position to comment on the circumstances of Mr Bremner's death. In the meantime, we will continue to carry out the work the public expects us to - ensuring the health and safety of workers and members of the public.

"Your article also repeats two completely untrue stories. HSE has not banned exercising horses in the dark at Newmarket. Nor has HSE forbidden staff from moving furniture. Items moved regularly in HSE offices are mounted on lockable wheels so any staff can move them easily. For other bulky and cumbersome furniture, arrangements exist for porters to move it safely."


Cheryl Anthony
Principal Inspector

Health and Safety Executive
Updated 2009-04-27