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Q: What implications does the Corporate Manslaughter act have?

A: The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into effect in the UK on 6 April 2008.

Companies and organisations can be found guilty of Corporate Manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

Prosecutions are of corporate body and not individuals, but the liability of directors, board members or other individuals under Health and Safety law or general criminal law, is unaffected, and the corporate body itself and individuals can still be prosecuted for separate health and safety offences. Companies and organisations should keep their health and safety management systems under review, in particular, the way in which their activities are managed and organised by senior management.

For more information on The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 click here

Q: I run a small construction firm, what are the minimum Health and Safety documents I need to be compliant with the law.

A: The minimum documentation required, if you employ 5 or more staff, including yourself is:

  • A written Health and Safety policy and policy statement – A safety policy is a written statement of an employer’s intent to ensure the safety of their employees. The purpose of the safety policy is to give a clear unequivocal commitment to comply with the relevant Regulations.
  • Written specific Risk Assessments
  • Written safe systems of work – these may also be known as Method Statements.
  • In the case of the construction company, depending on the size of their projects, there may also be additional regulations that they must adhere to such as:
    • Construction Design Management regulations 2007 – if the project runs over 30 days or is going to involve 500 person hours.
    • Health and Safety at work act 1974 – all works come under this act.
If you have concerns about the levels of health and safety documentation required for your business please get in touch. Call QSC on 01332 294800 or email us

Q: Do you think bonuses should be linked to safety?

A: In recent years, a number of articles published in the media have questioned organisations linking or removing bonuses on safety performance. Here QSC’s Managing Director, Shane Moore discusses the merits and difficulties of using such a technique.

Shane comments: “Money is often perceived as the greatest employee motivator. It is therefore perhaps easy to understand why firms want to link bonus payments to safety performance in an effort to ‘motivate’ employees to care more.

These bonus led approaches also offer a very public statement about the importance a firm places on safety. A technique implemented by BP following its Gulf of Mexico oil spill when it declared safety would be the sole measure for staff bonuses [http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE69I1C920101019] in late 2010.

I have no doubt the intentions behind linking bonuses and safety are honourable, but do have concerns about the approach in practice.

Read any employee engagement research and it will stress that although money is important it is not the main motivator. If we focus primarily on financial gain are we instilling a culture for greed and one where employees cut corners: not reporting incidents or massaging figures? In the autumn of 2010 a Network Rail employee presented a dossier containing allegations that safety figures for some level crossings had been falsified for up to three years. The Unite union claimed that under-reporting of accidents boosts directors' bonuses, which are linked to the safety performance of the company.

In closing, I can’t help but feel employees are most motivated if they enjoy what they do and feel valued. If we nurture these qualities can we not instil better safety in the workplace? I know the workers I meet don’t set out to work dangerously they want to do a good job. As employers and safety professionals shouldn’t we focus on meeting these needs by equipping employees with the right resources, training and guidance to foster a culture for safety rather than one for self-worth?”

Q: Should employees work alone?

A: From time to time organisations face situations where employees potentially need to work alone. QSC’s Adam Willis explores the guidance available to employers in these circumstances.

“As I understand it, there are no absolute restrictions on working alone, but in all cases a risk assessment should be completed, and then appropriate legislation and guidance followed to inform the decision on whether it is safe for that worker to carry out their duties.

There are two main pieces of legislation that will apply:

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974: Section 2 sets out a duty of care on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees whilst they are at work.

The Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999: Regulation 3 states that every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of:

  • their employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and
  • of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking.

At QSC, we often talk about having a common sense approach to safety, and never is it more relevant than with lone workers.

Completing a comprehensive risk assessment of the job role will help identify hazards of the work, assess risks and influence the measures that are then put in place to avoid or control the risks.

The role may be deemed safe, if appropriate instruction, training, supervision, protective equipment etc are given to the employee and regular reviews undertaken.

Equally though it is important to stand by the findings of the risk assessment, and if it is clear work cannot be carried out safely, by a lone worker, alternative arrangements need to be implemented.

The HSE have produced a leaflet on this subject which I encourage everyone with lone workers, or considering lone workers, to read.

The publication, amongst other things, offers some points to identify such as:

  • Does the workplace present a special risk to the lone worker?
  • Is there a safe way in and out for one person?
  • Can any temporary access equipment which is necessary, such as portable ladders or trestles, be safely handled by one person?
  • Can all the plant, substances and goods involved in the work be safely handled by one person?
  • Consider whether the work involves lifting objects too large for one person or whether more than one person is needed to operate essential controls for the safe running of equipment.
  • Is there a risk of violence?

To read a copy of the HSE’s Working Alone leaflet click here. For support completing comprehensive risk assessments talk to QSC.

Q: The HSE are clamping down on construction sites, how can we improve safety ?

A: QSC Director, Ashley Moore, offers his thoughts on what can be done to help construction sites improve safety and comply with legal requirements.

“At QSC, we work tirelessly with organisations to prevent the loss of innocent lives, but it’s a team effort so I urge you all from directors to site operatives to put safety at the forefront of everything you do no matter how large or small.

One sector in particular which has always recorded higher than average loss of life statistics is Construction. The HSE have been clamping down on unsafe practices on construction sites in the UK. Below is a guide of what the HSE look at:

  • Ensuring that jobs that involve working at height are properly planned and the appropriate precautions are in place.
  • Equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained.
  • Sites are well organised to avoid slips, trips and falls.
  • Walkways and stairs are free from obstruction.
  • Work areas are clear of unnecessary materials and waste.
  • Suitable PPE, including head protection is provided and worn at all times.

Now is the time to ensure safe systems of work are part of your everyday routine not just words for the HSE Inspectors. HSE can visit at any time, without warning, if it’s your site be prepared.



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