The Supreme Court has ruled against the Health and Safety Executive in a case involving global oil firm, Chevron, and which could have consequences for further appeals.
The oil firm successfully defended an appeal against a prohibition notice under section 24 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This was because evidence could be taken into account which was not known to the Health and Safety Executive inspector at the time he issued the notice.
The case referred to a notice issued by an HSE inspector to Chevron on its offshore installation in the North Sea. In April 2013, the structure was inspected, including a helipad, which was deemed a vital part of the structure as it acted as the main source of access to the site. The inspector deemed the stairways from the structure to be unsafe due to corrosion – and said there was a risk of serious personal injury from falling through the stairs. As a result, he served a prohibition notice under section 22 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (the Act).
Subsequently, Chevron appealed to the Employment Tribunal against the prohibition notice under section 24 of the Act. At the appeal, the global oil firm relied upon a report from an expert, it had commissioned eleven months after the inspection, which indicated there was no risk as the stairways conformed to the relevant British Standard. On this basis, the tribunal supported the appeal.