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October 21, 2015

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46 years of safety – the UK’s longest serving HSE inspector

A health and safety inspector has become the longest serving inspector of the Health and Safety Executive after 46 years in the profession.

Dave Rothery, 66, is based at Tandridge District Council’s office in Oxted and monitors Surrey and Sussex.

Principal inspector in the area, Rothery described to local press one of his most harrowing cases where a crane collapsed at a high school killing two people and badly injuring a third.

Mr Rothery explained that it was sheer luck more people weren’t killed.

He said: “At the time it was tea break for the other 50 men, who as a result were all in the canteen, which was not affected by the collapse. Had they been scattered around the site, as they were minutes earlier, many more could have died or been seriously injured.

“One of the cranes was due for dismantling. This involved loosening them and then tightening them up again so that the final dismantling the next day would be easier. This process with bolts being removed went wrong and resulted in the jib toppling and falling against the other crane, causing that to buckle and fall. The two men on the jib fell to their death.

“The decisions people make in the work place can change their lives or kill them. It’s our job to make sure people make it home from a day’s work safely.”

As a result of Mr Rothery and his team’s investigation, the company was prosecuted for failure to train the men and fined £125,000.


In his 46 years of being a health and safety inspector, Mr Rothery explained that he believed there will always be an element of risk that can’t be removed.

“Sometimes people are just unlucky,” he said. “I know someone who fell 11 feet and he died, but others have fallen from much greater heights and just end up with a knock.”

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Mike Kelly
Mike Kelly
8 years ago

Congratulations Dave. You’ve definitely got staying power. All those years ago when we were doing that Masters course together-seems like yesterday.
Best wishes