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Cormac health and safety incident: what the HSE actually said to Cormac about their breach of RIDDOR

After I resigned from the Cabinet and made allegations about the failings of Cormac in relation to the serious accident that happened to "Joe", a Cormac employee, both Corserv and the Cornwall Council leader made statements that suggested that the Health and Safety Executive had found that Cormac had done nothing wrong and that my allegations were unfounded.

I have now obtained a copy of the letter that the HSE sent to Cormac on 16 April 2020 pointing out that Cormac had, in fact, breached RIDDOR and had filed an incorrect report in relation to the incident.

The letter made a number of points about what Cormac had or had not done, including the following:

"This review has identified that the RIDDOR report submitted by Cormac Solutions Limited, a subsidiary of Corserv Limited, on 27th January 2017 contained a number of errors …"

"It is evident from my review of correspondence and documentation that Cormac Solutions Limited were aware at the time of reporting to HSE that the injury sustained by Mr X, fractured skull, was a specified injury but the report did not reflect this …"

"the content of the report constituted a breach of Reg 4(1)(a) of RIDDOR."

"I was also concerned to identify that although initial enquiries were made in December 2016 a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding the injury to Mr X was not carried out until several months after the incident following concern raised with Cormac by Cllr Egerton."

For the full letter, see HSE letter to Cormac

You may be interested to note the following:

1) I was only able to obtain a copy of this letter after making FOI requests to both Corserv and to the HSE.

2) The HSE only wrote this letter to Cormac after I had gone through a two-stage complaint process with the HSE. The HSE had initially just written Cormac a brief email saying that they were taking no further action. For a copy of the HSE letter sent to me after my complaints, see HSE letter April 2020

3) In the final letter to Cormac, the reason that the HSE decided to "take no further action" was because "it is evident from discussion and documentation reviewed that there have been significant changes to your health and safety management systems in the intervening years which have improved your incident reporting policy and procedure making the issue of an IN [Improvement Notice] unnecessary and inappropriate."

So what was the documentation that Corserv provided to show how their processes had improved? It consisted of three items:
i) A copy of the internal investigation report (relating to the incident);
ii) copies of the employee’s Statement of Fitness for Work (FIT) notes;
iii) the Company’s RIDDOR reporting checklist.

Since the internal investigation report (see copy at Bob's resignation) contained no recommendations for action following the incident, it did not provide the HSE with any evidence of improvement; and the employee's statement of fitness for work clearly would not have had any evidence of improvement. Therefore, the only documentary evidence of "improvement" would have been the RIDDOR reporting flowchart, see copy here.

It is difficult to see how producing a flowchart of how to complete a RIDDOR form is conclusive evidence of an improvement in procedures. One must therefore conclude that the decisive factor in the HSE's decision not to prosecute or to issue an improvement notice was the "discussion" that took place between the HSE Principal Inspector and the Health and Safety Director of Corserv in their one-to-one meeting at the HSE Plymouth office on 31 October 2019. Unfortunately, there is no record of what was actually said at that meeting. The HSE did not think that it was necessary to make notes of that meeting (or if they did take notes, I have been unable to elicit any evidence of them from FOI requests).

In summary, Cormac lied to the HSE in reports to them. The HSE only became aware of the untruths after I confronted the chief executive of Cornwall Council and the chief executive of Corserv in September 2019 and told them that, if they did not write to the HSE about this matter, then I would do so myself. After Corserv had written to the HSE, the Health and Safety Director of Corserv then went to the Plymouth office of the HSE, had a cosy little chat with the Principal Inspector of the HSE, persuaded her that everything at Corserv was now hunky-dory, and the HSE decided that no further action was necessary.


July 2020



See Resignation from Cabinet

See Cormac incident update

See Cormac solicitor letter

See Interview recording

See Council refuses to answer questions about Cormac

See HSE letter to Cormac

See Court case threat update

See Behind the Headlines

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