Learn the system

DIA Insurance ADI News

In the last article I introduced some of the meaning to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. I need to reiterate and extend that to help ADIs see where an employer is coming from in terms of a new phrase ‘Duty of Care’, part of Occupational Safety and Health.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA 1974) was born out of necessity. It’s predecessors, The Factories Act 1961 and the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 were not robust enough. This was tested through serious incidents, mainly with steam driven equipment in factories, causing explosions and fires. The Fire Precautions Act 1971 was born, which dictated that fire alarms had to be fitted, and buildings had to have escapes, fire extinguishers or fire-suppression systems depending on the levels of occupancy. But there were still areas of improvement required.

Testament to this was the Woolworths Fire, located in Back Piccadilly in Manchester in 1979, killing 10. Cause was a faulty electrical cable – the store had just been re-fitted. A drenching system was fitted, but needed to be turned on manually, which, on the day, couldn’t be because an off-duty member of staff had the key to the cupboard housing the stop valve. It was clearly a breakdown in responsibility. The systems and monitoring of the safety of that environment could never exist. (…Duty of Care….)

The UK economy always has, and still does, require a plethora of goods and services to supply the needs of the many. In terms of health and safety there is no single manual that lays a trodden path that joins the dots and therefore ‘reasonably practicable’ would be debated in a court if things were to go wrong. Often, businesses are not confined to one site, and so ‘reasonably practicable’ has to allow for:

  • What is being produced
  • Geographical location and unusual local conditions
  • Percentage of turnover that was appropriated to the safe systems installed

As mentioned in the last article, ‘environment’ means the property or properties being used by the business which is not necessarily confined to a boundary or border of a site. In other words, it includes extensions to the workplace, i.e. vehicles leaving the site to carry out business duties, whether that be conveying, delivering or transporting.

You can see now that in order to uphold this, management systems need to be in place with the appropriate monitoring to ensure the compliance. For those companies using vehicles for business activities, we can see that it has to be simplified to site and conveyance. A weakness in most management schemes is to put too much emphasis on the building and site, and not enough on the driver and vehicle. Once a driver has attained this licence, how is their driving monitored? What are their driving habits? How much risk are they to the integrity of the business they are working for? Negative publicity is very difficult to chase, especially in the social media channels, when things go wrong and accidents or bad driving are witnessed.

The HSWA Act was amended by adding the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 to it. These regulations “require every employer (big or small) to carry out assessments of the risk to the health and safety of their employees, or themselves, while they are at work, and for other people who may be affected by their work activities. This includes any driving activity on the road”.

This now adds another dimension. The environment is now referring to site and on-road, and ‘affected by their work activities’ now regarded as other road users, albeit in a ‘reasonably practicable’ manner. So now a company must weigh up the risks and have a policy for occupational safety and health in order to carry out its duty of care.

What do they have to do? They have to do an assessment of the risks. One assessment for the risk to the business and the other to the risk of those carrying out duties of work. Who should they be assessing? Due to ‘reasonably practicable’ they must assess the high risk, usually the high mileage workers, due to their exposure to the risks of others’ actions, but should also include those with unclean licences. How unclean? Well, that depends what the endorsements are. A driver with 10 points on the licence for driving under the influence of alcohol is going to need different monitoring than a driver who has 10 points for construction and use misdemeanours.

Individual needs

We are now realising the background to any organisation. In order to train in the fleet market we need to be able to understand all about the organisation’s needs. As a trainer we must consider the duties that the employees have to undertake so as to get a feel of their routine, and likely behaviour and traits. No organisation wants negative publicity and so you have to be able to correct what you can in the time you have with the client.

There will be many times where they will throw many areas of weakness at you. It’s not like the provisional licence market; in the fleet environment you have to move faster and think on your feet a lot more. You deal with the most serious weaknesses first – you don’t have a syllabus and not always an area to train in that is totally familiar to you.

Before the session is finished a debrief takes place where you can discuss what has improved, what needs improving and what will be written in a report to the line manager. Report writing is very important. It is a skill that needs to be learned because your report has to be able to stand up to scrutiny in a court of law if necessary. This means that all of your judgments of assessment and coaching have to be really on the ball all of the time.

None of this is trained on your passage to becoming an ADI, especially what you need to know about the occupational safety and health aspect. No two companies have identical policies and you have to be aware of each and work within it, after all, when on their site, or in their property (vehicle) you come under their health and safety policy.

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Source: ADI News

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