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Written by
on 17 October 2017


First, let’s be clear – learning how to fake health and safety documentation is a really, really bad idea.

AKA how to earn yourself a jail sentence by faking health and safety documents.

Not only is forging records a criminal offence but doing so puts people at serious risk of injury – or death.

Why do people fake health and safety records?

Failing to carry out risk assessments is not uncommon. The rush to start work, and to maintain profit margins, means that these basic tasks can be overlooked.

In the event of an accident, an investigation by HSE inspectors will quickly discover that expected standards are not being upheld. A lack of paperwork is a dead giveaway that a business is not properly protecting workers. The rush to get to work means that reports and assessments are not completed.

Faking health and safety records – usually an after-thought

After a serious accident, it is natural to try and deflect responsibility or to identify mitigating circumstances. Some dishonest business owners may take this further, falsifying reports and paperwork to hide their negligence. They will create a paper trail that “proves” all the necessary preparatory work, training and safeguards were in place before the incident.

Often they will need to build a conspiracy to give the paper trail credibility too. Other employees or suppliers will be encouraged to provide statements that confirm all the required safety procedures were in place at the time of the accident.

As we said above, this kind of dishonesty is illegal. It also ignores the fact that a person has been seriously injured or killed as a direct result of negligence.

The penalties can be severe

A recent case in West Bromwich heard how a 45-year old man was killed after falling through a factory roof. The death could have been prevented by fitting a safety net under the work area, but this was not put in place.

As the HSE investigation got underway, the company’s MD and his daughter created a fake risk assessment and method statement, pretending that necessary checks had been completed before work began. A third man joined the conspiracy, telling investigators that a safety examination of the site had been completed one month prior to the fatal accident.

Their lies only came to light at the inquest into the death, when one of the conspirators confessed to their deception while giving evidence. The MD and his daughter have since been prosecuted for attempting to pervert the course of justice and health and safety failings; he received a two-year jail sentence, while she was handed an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years.

Don’t be an idiot, don’t fake health and safety records

It is always cheaper and easier to implement proper health and safety provisions than to try and fake paperwork after an incident. It’s also the decent thing to do when dealing with the welfare of other human beings – which is why the penalties for trying to mislead HSE inspectors are so tough.

For more help and advice on carrying out proper risk assessments and method statements (without breaking the bank), please get in touch.

A chartered (fellow) safety and risk management practitioner with 20+ years of experience. David provides a healthy dose of how-to articles, advice and guidance to make compliance easier for construction professionals, Architects and the built environment. Get social with David on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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