Doctor David Wenham was appointed a lecturer at Loughborough University in 1990 after working for several years as an HSE inspector. He is currently the Director of the Postgraduate Programme in Occupational Health and Safety Management at Loughborough.

His main interests and consultancy work are occupational health and safety law, risk assessment techniques, safety management and safety culture/climate

As part of our meet the expert series he agreed to sit down and answer some questions about his experience

How do you fit into the Hastam team?

I have been with HASTAM for 5 years. My main role is as an expert witness, in particular in cases in which the adequacy or otherwise of risk assessments and the methods employed to create them is under scrutiny. Most organisations adopt a risk matrix as a means of evaluating risk, however research over the last decade has shown the outcomes to be unreliable, leaving organisations vulnerable to criticism.

Who has been your biggest influencer?

This would be a long list, starting with my parents, some inspirational lecturers from university days. I would mention Richard Booth, Hani Raafat and the barrister John Riley all from Aston University whose great knowledge and enthusiasm enhanced my fascination for occupational safety and in particular the role of the law.

What is the most memorable EW case you have ever been involved in?

Each case I have been involved in from civil claims, to criminal prosecutions and inquests has been memorable. Inevitably those cases in which I have attended court and been subject to cross examination have been the most challenging and ultimately the most rewarding. In a recent inquest, I felt my evidence gave some assistance to the parents of the deceased in understanding the events that lead to their son’s death.

What is the one piece of advice that has stuck with you through your career?

Remember that you are involved in events that have had a major impact on people’s lives.

What would be your advice to solicitors?

Try to give very precise instructions regarding what is required in the report. A list of specific questions is invariably very helpful, whereas asking “what do you think” is less so. This would of course not prevent comment on other issues which might be perceived as being relevant

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