Active Monitoring of Health and Safety is vital if an organisation is to avoid catastrophe. Good, solid, and sensible active monitoring help an organisation to avoid disaster by ensuring that the control measures that they believe are keeping them safe actually are keeping them safe. Active monitoring helps to avoid the reality gap: the chasm between what we think is happening and what is really happening.
A few years ago there was a significant prosecution in Scotland based on a failure in the health and safety management of a company, mainly to do with their lack of active monitoring. This is a very brief summary of the key points of this case.
In common with other important aspects of running a business (e.g. sales, production, finance, quality, etc.) companies need to measure their health and safety management performance to find out if they are being successful. Monitoring may be split into two distinct areas: Active Monitoring and Reactive Monitoring. Most people are familiar with, and comfortable with, the concept of reactive monitoring. Reactive Monitoring is the process of investigation into things that have gone wrong (such as accident investigation) and involves learning from mistakes. These mistakes may have resulted in injuries and illness, property damage or near misses.
Active monitoring is an important aspect of modern health and safety management that appears to be very difficult for some companies to accept and to buy into. It is the things that we do that generally keep employees (and other persons) from harm; but it is the records and documents that we keep (and complete) that help to protect the Company. A Scottish court case from a couple of years ago helps to put this into context.
Fairly new to the world of health and safety is the concept of Safety and the Internet of Things (IoT).
We have all heard about computer hacking, and some have heard about the Internet of Things (or IoT). Few, if any of us, have included susceptibility to (malicious) outside control under the category of hazards that we need to protect against. As more and more devices are able to be controlled remotely through the use of the internet, then the risks of someone else doing the controlling increases.
I have blogged on this issue before, but too many employers gloss over it. Section 40 is not your friend, and you need to know why.
Section 40 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) places the burden of proof on an accused in offences consisting of a failure to comply with a duty or requirement to do something “so far as is practicable, or so far as reasonably practicable, or to use the best practicable means to do something”. The Act provides that the accused must prove that it was not practicable, or not reasonably practicable to do more than was done, or that there was no better practicable means than that used to satisfy the duty or requirement.
Reported recently in the Leicester Mercury:
A BMW driver has been caught speeding at 128mph through a 50mph roadworks area on the M1.
Amir Nazari was travelling at more than one mile every 30 seconds in his BMW X5 and was putting “lives at risk”, police said. The 39-year-old was caught travelling at the staggering speed on the northbound carriageway between junctions 28a to 35a – from Derbyshire up to Sheffield. He was fined a total of £649 for the “shocking” act, and disqualified from driving for 12 months at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court.
Commenting during sentencing, Len Miller, the chairman of the magistrates’ bench, said:
Despite the serious concerns my colleagues and I have, and the risk you posed to others and yourself, we are restricted to a financial penalty and a disqualification.
Had it been different circumstances and there had been an accident or someone had been injured you would be in a much more serious position.
The full text of the Leicester Mercury article makes for an interesting read.
Potholes cause injuries, but we too often treat them as “the norm”. During various site assessments, I have raised issues such as the one described below on numerous occasions. Some clients respond and deal with the matter (which seems sensible as they asked for the advice). Some choose to ignore it and occasionally deride the narrative (because they don’t like the message).
Pothole fine – In a recent case, Fareham Borough Council successfully prosecuted One Stop Ltd after a customer tripped over on a pothole on the forecourt last year and sustained serious injuries at the shop on Warsash Road in Warsash. A District Judge at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court handed down the judgement along with a £250,000 fine and One Stop were also ordered to pay the Council’s costs of £3700.
Opportunities to address this issue were not taken
Once again a recycling company has made the news, again this is not for a good reason. This time the company was fined £666,000 after worker suffers head injuries after an unattended telehandler led to serious injury.
Countrystyle Recycling Ltd, a Maidstone based recycling company, was fined after a 34-year old worker suffered life-threatening head injuries. The Folkestone Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 30 September 2015, the 34-year old employee of Ltd instructed another colleague to use a telehandler to move paper at the company’s site in Maidstone, Kent. The telehandler was left running while the employee left the cab unattended. The boom of the telehandler was elevated and was lowered by another employee who entered the cab of the vehicle. The boom struck the head of the injured person as he was standing below this raised boom.
Cautioned Interview Guidelines – Facing a Cautioned Interview for Health and Safety or Food Hygiene Matters
In this short piece, Peter Phillips (a Senior Health and Safety Consultant with LRB Consulting Limited and an ex-EHO (Environmental Health Officer) gives you some sage advice on what to do if you are invited to a Cautioned Interview by an Enforcement Officer. Peter has helped many people to prepare for this and has assisted some of them at the interview.
Try to avoid the Cautioned Interview in the first place
A cautioned interview may arise where an enforcement authority believes a breach of the law has taken place and the person being interviewed may be guilty singly or in part for the offence, or they are deemed to speak for a Company that might be held in breach.
We (BYT Electrical) have been dealing with LRB consulting Limited since 2015. We had decided as a company we needed to get our Health & Safety up to scratch and wanted to apply for the Safe Contractor Accreditation.
Christian (of LRB Consulting Limited) firstly dealt with a colleague of mine and set up systems with supporting documents to enable us to achieve the Safe Contractor Accreditation in 2016. In 2017 unfortunately, the departure of my colleague left me holding the mantle I am an accountant, not a Health and Safety expert.
Christian stepped up to the plate and helped me produce the required documents following on from my colleague’s departure. He even came into the office to help me with matters and helped me every step of the way to our accreditation this year (2017). I found him very approachable and very eloquent at explaining issues to me.
I would recommend LRB Consulting Limited services to other companies.
The lack of separation between people and vehicles (which also includes things like forklift trucks, FLT) has resulted in a national manufacturer and supplier of fitted kitchens, appliances and joinery products being fined £1.2 million after the death of a visiting HGV driver at one of the company’s premises.
The Crown Court in Carlisle heard how an agency driver (RB) was delivering kitchen worktops to a Howden Joinery Ltd site in Workington when he was crushed to death as a forklift truck (FLT) overturned whilst lifting kitchen worktops from the trailer of the HGV. An investigation into the incident that took place on 10 November 2014 found the FLT had been overloaded and that visiting delivery drivers were not kept at a safe distance from the loading and unloading operations.
Howden Joinery Ltd of Portman Square, London pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company has been fined £1.2 million and ordered to pay costs of £33,902.00.