We acted for an employee who was prosecuted for breach of s7 HSWA following an incident at a firing range when a rifle that he was attempting to load exploded causing injuries to both himself and the supervisor of the firing point.

The prosecution was largely based on the premise that the employee had been instructed to stop firing and had failed to do so. However, during the course of the trial, it was established that whilst the supervisors had been wearing electronic ear defenders which amplified spoken words and cut out other sounds above 85 decibels, the employee was wearing standard ear defenders which cut out all sound. It also became evident that any instruction given to the employee prior to the incident was more of a conversational nature than a firm established instruction to stop firing.

In light of these facts, the employee was found not guilty. The case highlights that where the evidence that the prosecution relies upon is open to challenge and the implications of a conviction are significant (which is particularly acute in the prosecutions of individuals), a defence can be successfully maintained and a conviction avoided.