Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 11:58 UK

Prosecutors target work accidents

Super Puma wreck arrives in Aberdeen
The Super Puma helicopter crash will be one of the cases examined

Specialist prosecutors are now leading the investigation and prosecution of work-related accidents across Scotland, the solicitor general has said.

Frank Mulholland QC said the new Crown Office Health and Safety Division would examine cases reported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

He hopes to produce a concentration of expertise and identify bad practice.

The new team will investigate several high-profile cases, including the Super Puma helicopter crash in the North Sea.

Sixteen men died in the crash on 1 April.

The division will also probe the loss of the tug Flying Phantom while it towed Red Jasmine on the River Clyde on 19 December 2007, resulting in three deaths and leaving another person injured.

The new unit will have eight specialist prosecutors in a team of 16 and will be based in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The prosecutors will adopt an approach similar to the specialist units for investigating sexual offences and environmental crime.

High profile

Announcing the official launch of the new division, Mr Mulholland said: "Drawing on their expertise and experience, they will identify unlawful practices that put safety at risk in our communities, bringing to justice those who fail to discharge their obligations under health and safety law."

Elaine Taylor, head of the new health and safety division, said: "While we investigate all cases thoroughly, some, such as the recent Super Puma tragedy, are particularly high profile and complex, with unique challenges for investigators and prosecutors.

"We anticipate that cases like this will benefit particularly from the new division and its specialist teams."

Ms Taylor also said she recognised the importance of communicating with victims and families during lengthy investigations.

Paul Stollard, regional director of the Health and Safety Executive, welcomed the new division.

He said: "Despite recent statistics showing that the number of work-related fatalities in Scotland is at a record low, there are still a worrying number of serious workplace accidents taking place that are entirely preventable.

"By building on the close working relationship that already exists between HSE and the procurator fiscal's office, we can ensure those responsible for fatalities and major injuries in the workplace are held to account so that further incidents can be avoided."

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