Posts that are related to Human Resources.

Prevention is better than criminal law. Landed Estate Trustees personally liable for criminal health and safety prosecutions

Any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility for the benefit of another is a trustee. Also a trustee can be a person who is allowed to do certain tasks but not able to gain income (Wikipedia). For this reason, many Landed Estates choose to appoint solicitors as trustees.

Landed Estate trustees may not be aware that they could be personally liable for a criminal prosecution should any employee, visitor or contracted service provider be injured or killed on the estate.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 means that companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter or homicide (in Scotland) if its activities are managed or organised in such a way that

  1. Causes a person’s death, and
  2. Amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.

The introduction of the act makes an organisation liable if a fatality results from the way in which its activities are managed or organised.  Corporate manslaughter is an extremely serious offence, reserved for the very worst cases of corporate mismanagement leading to death.  Courts will look at management systems and practices across the organisation, and whether an adequate standard of care was applied to the fatal activity.

Juries will be required to consider the extent to which an organisation was in breach of health and safety requirements, and how serious those failings were. 

They will also be able to consider wider cultural issues within the organisation, such as attitudes or practices that tolerated health and safety breaches.

You cannot insure against a criminal prosecution

There are two types of law, criminal law that enforces a code of conduct and allows the state to punish and civil law which enables an individual who has suffered harm to seek compensation or an injunction to prevent harm (or further harm) from occurring.

You can insure against the costs of a civil law suit, such as negligence, but not against a criminal offence.

Health and Safety prevention

It is imperative that trustees ensure there is adequate health and safety in place not only for their direct employees and visitors but that their contractors also have robust policies in place, so hire from an approved list of contractors that have provided evidence that they comply and enforce all health and safety requirements.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain.  Under the Act, employer’s duties include:

  1. Protect health, safety and welfare of employees;
  2. Provide and maintain safe systems of work;
  3. Ensure safety in the use, handling, storage and transportation of articles and substances;
  4. Provide information, supervision and training;
  5. Provide safe places/environment for work, with safe access and egress;
  6. Provide adequate welfare facilities and arrangements;
  7. If five or more people are employed at any one time for a single undertaking – produce written health and safety policy;
  8. Protect people not in their employment that may be affected by their operations;
  9. Consult safety representatives and establish a safety committee when requested by two or more safety representatives;
  10. Provide free of charge items required by statutory provisions.
  11. Employees’ duties include:
  • Take reasonable care for themselves and others who might be affected by their acts or omissions;
  • Cooperate with their employer or other person so far as is necessary to enable them to comply with their own statutory duties and requirements;
  • Not intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare.

Since 1974 a ‘Six Pack’ of regulations have developed that enact a number of European Union Directives.  The regulations are:

  1. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – MHSWR;
  2. Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) regulations 1992 WHSWR;
  3. Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations 1992 – DSE;
  4. Personal Protective Equipment at Work regulations 1992 – PPE;
  5. Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 – MHOR;
  6. Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations 1998 – PUWER.

So what impact does this have on modern landed estates?

Trustees must ensure that written risk assessments cover each aspect of the estate and any public access and that third party liability insurance is in place. And it is imperative that all estates must write and implement a robust health and safety report which is kept under constant review. This will not only limit the chances of injury or death but will minimise the risks of a criminal prosecution due to gross negligence.

 

 

 

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: What is an employee handbook?

An employee handbook conveys what is important to you and what kind of behaviours you perceive most desirable within your business. A well written handbook establishes clear “rules” so your employees can easily understand the parameters of their place of work, their eligibility for company benefits, what kind of behaviours may result in termination and how to solve problems.

EmployeeHandbook

Party Poppers

It’s Christmas Party Time!

It’s the time of the year many employers like to put on some sort of Christmas gathering to thank employees for their hard work throughout the year, in many cases it’s a time when the employees look forward to switching off and letting their hair down,  a little too much in many cases.

However to avoid problems, the boundaries need to be set by the employer, the office party is an extension of the normal work environment if it is held at a separate venue or outside of the normal working hours. Employers can be held responsible for employee actions. It is important that employers communicate to its employees what is and isn’t acceptable at any work social events.

Employees should be aware they could face disciplinary action for any breaches of disciplinary rules including dismissal for gross misconduct following unacceptable behaviour at the Christmas party – they need to understand it is not acceptable to tell their boss exactly what they think of them and expect to get away with it just because they had a little too much to drink!!

Party Poppers

Likewise, employers also need to ensure their managers behave accordingly and must be careful not to let their guard down by being overly social or using alcohol as an excuse to speak freely. Employers should consider drinking arrangements, for example if there is a free bar, consider limiting the arrangements and organising transport home for employees as employers could be liable for the welfare of their employees if they suffer alcohol-induced accidents.

Employers should also make a decision in advance to what leniency will be extended on the day after the party if it is a working day, Health & Safety should be at the forefront of the employers mind for example employees driving to work after having transport home the night before and employers should not expect employees to operate machinery if they are not fit to do so.

It’s important to remember it is a Christmas party and employers should not put the dampener on the festivities as this could have a negative effect and ruin the atmosphere of the party. Providing the employer takes reasonable steps to prevent unacceptable behaviour; employees must also take responsibility for their actions.

Rachael Walsh-Grant
HR Services Manager
December 2013

CoSHH

Training Employees On Adhering To A CoSHH Assessment

Every business has some sort of hazardous substances to deal with; therefore, every worker encounters hazardous substances to some extent.  In 2002, COSHH was introduced in order to protect people against risks of these substances when dealing with them or when exposed to them.

Importance Of CoSHH Assessment

The CoSSH regulations make it imperative for employees to conduct CoSHH assessment training for employees, in order to be aware of the risks involved with hazardous substances as well as being aware of appropriate measures to minimise risks.  Noncompliance will result in hefty fines, penalties, enforcement, imprisonment as well as facing compensation claims from the injured person.

If you are ready to include CoSHH assessment into your health and safety management practice, but wondering how to proceed, then head on to Safety Revolution.  We are a leading health and safety consultancy and have a great wealth of experience with offering health and safety services as well as CoSHH assessment and training to a wide range of industries.

CoSHH Assessment From Safety Revolution

Our CoSHH assessment will be tailored to specific substances and risks your workers face.  Our assessment will focus on the correct handling and storage of hazardous substances.  Our CoSHH assessment training will give your employees a sound understanding of their COSHH responsibilities for controlling hazardous substances.  From our assessment, your employees will be able to gain a better understanding of the CoSHH regulations, they will have a basic knowledge about the risk assessment process as well as control measures.

To discuss your requirements about CoSHH assessment training contact Safety Revolution at 1E Witney Office Village, Network Point, Range Road, Witney, Oxfordshire OX29 0YN.

Telephone number: 01993 224108, Email:  info@safetyrevolution.co.uk

Recruitment

Take the time to motivate staff and reward success

The autumn workload is hopefully easing and after a difficult harvest there may well have been occasions during the peak period when you felt that an individual’s performance could have been better or that areas for improvement became more obvious or will be easier to example based on what occurred during the harvest period. No team functions perfectly; there may be  areas of individual performance that you feel you’d like to address with the team on a one to one basis. Equally you may feel that there have been some standout achievements, that staff have risen to the challenge and that you’d like to create an opportunity to formally recognise that.

An appraisal meeting is a great way to do that. It is very much a matter of opinion as to how often and in what format these should be conducted. There are a few conventions that are widely accepted and which are worth considering if you plan to start a regular appraisal process.

If you commit to appraisals it is best to set a routine frequency of say every six months. The timing can be organised to fit with workload and act as a means of agreeing plans going into busy periods or alternatively as a wash up after the event. If you do start them it’s good to keep the process going on a regular basis.

It’s a good idea to standardise the content and style of the meeting by using some type of appraisal form that lays out a series of structured questions or topics appropriate to your business. Ideally you would draft the form and circulate it staff to ensure that they are comfortable with the content.

From there it’s a good idea to fix the meeting time well in advance. This enables everyone to give it full consideration and to hopefully think through the issues that they want to discuss. The appraisal form should be circulated at least two weeks before the meeting allowing everyone the chance to reflect on what they want to bring to the meeting.

When you come to undertake the meeting make sure that it gets priority, that it’s not postponed and that you give it as much time as it needs. Ensure that phones are switched off and that everyone knows you’re busy and not to be interrupted. These seem like basics but they are actually critical to creating an environment that is best suited to encouraging open, unstinted dialogue and to making it the basis for a really constructive assessment of performance and a platform for setting goals and objectives for the period through to the next review.

In a busy working environment and one where we are as managers in very regular contact with the team on a daily, if not hourly basis it is easy to fall into a very informal style of goal setting and of effectively making the review process a kind of rolling exercise. Whilst this has its advantages in maintaining regular communication it can also blur the boundaries and goals. Someone is less likely to register the importance to you of a particular objective if it’s discussed fleetingly in the middle of the yard or as you drive them back to pick up a trailer.

Ultimately the appraisal process is about motivating staff, about addressing any under performance in a constructive and professional manner and about recognising success and congratulating those who have delivered the goods. It’s about doing all that in a place and time that means it is fully registered, that it sinks in and that you get the maximum benefit out of the following six months.