Protecting against corporate manslaughter litigation

Bob Towse
A sound basis for maintenance policy — Bob Towse of the Heating & Ventilating Contractors’ Association
To help organisations and individuals avoid the risk of litigation, the head of technical and safety with the Heating & Ventilating Contractors Association stresses the vital role of guidance developed by HVCA. Bob Towse explains that SFG20, the ‘Standard maintenance specification for mechanical services in buildings’, provides practical guidelines on routine maintenance procedures relating to all principal heating, cooling and ventilation systems commonly used in Europe. It is targeted at plant attendants, operators and supervisors, maintenance contractors, facilities managers, specifiers, architects, local authorities and health trusts. Bob Towse says, ‘I would strongly advise building managers to use SFG20 in maintenance contracts. Following these standards should ensure that the building operates in an energy-efficient and safe manner, minimising accidents on site.’ A corporate manslaughter bill has been drafted by Parliament, which the Government hopes will make it easier to prosecute companies responsible for fatal accidents. This would be applicable when a person has been killed because senior management or the ‘controlling mind’ of the company has grossly failed to take reasonable care of the safety of employees or others. ‘Currently, there is no enough care and attention given to maintenance standards on site,’ says Bob Towse. ‘The recent case brought against Barrow-in-Furness Council following seven deaths from Legionnaires’ Disease highlights the importance of this issue. I cannot stress enough how important it is to safeguard against this happening. ‘It is imperative that businesses have a comprehensive set of standards and procedures in place so everyone from senior engineers to senior management knows what the correct procedures are and can follow them. SFG20 is available at the online shop of HVCA Publications or by telephoning 01786 860405
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