Gillian Birkby (24 September, page 72) refers to my prosecution as an “illustration of how designers need to implement the CDM regulations” and of how designers “could avoid accidents by providing more information about hazards”. However I feel sure that she could not have intended to imply that I failed to comply with the CDM Regulations, since I was declared not guilty of that offence with full recovery of all my defence costs.
Paragraph 63 of the then ACoP advises that the information to be given about residual risks should be that which those dependant upon it cannot reasonably be expected to know. This is stated in several HSE guidance notes as well.
The cause of the accident was the unauthorised departure from an agreed safe method by a steel erector, and not a lack of understanding about the safe method of erection or of the risk that a door might fall over if not held upright. The HSE’s case collapsed when the first two prosecution witnesses (the safety planning supervisor and the site manager) both stated unequivocally that the information provided was very clear and certainly sufficient to alert them to the residual risks, which were obvious.
There is no evidence that poor permanent works design is a primary cause of accidents in all but a tiny minority of cases, which probably accounts for the complacency of a minority of designers. However, I agree with the widely held view that some designers could certainly do more to promote safety on site, and I sympathise with writers on the subject because of the difficulty in finding apt cases to refer to.
Andrew Allan, via email