The Importance of Treating Agency Workers the Same as Employees

The recent media attention in the prosecution of the waste and recycling company Veolia ES (UK) is a timely reminder of the cost of failing to properly plan and have safe systems of work in place for high risk activities. In the incident three years ago, an agency worker was killed while litter picking on the roadside when another road user collided with a company vehicle, shunting it into the man and killing him. Newcastle-under-Lyme-based, Bibby Consulting & Support, which advises local businesses on matters relating to health and safety law compliance, highlights the importance of giving agency workers the same attention as employees. Comments Stuart Gornall, Bibby’s Technical Health and Safety manager: “The pertinent fact to consider in this case is that Veolia was prosecuted in a Crown Court , under both sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. This means that they failed to safeguard both their own employees and agency workers and that the work was neither properly planned nor were proper safe systems of work put in place.” Workplace transport is a high risk activity: statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE, 2010) show that being struck by a moving vehicle accounts for more than half of all fatal transport-related injuries. It is vital in terms of ensuring Safety that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is carried out. Continues Stuart: “In instances where a company is managing works that involve interaction with road users, it is vital to carry out a task-specific risk assessment prior to work taking place. It is the company’s duty to protect the crew working on the roadside as well as members of the public.” Following the risk assessment, suitable safe systems of work must be put in place and communicated to all involved. This will include training of the crew in safe use of equipment and how to undertake the work, the use of high visibility clothing, and the provision of warning signage, Regular inspections of the site should be carried out by management to monitor that work is being carried out in accordance with agreed safe systems of work. “In addition, Management must check to ensure that that the agency worker has the necessary skills and attributes in order to be able to carry out the work in a safe manner. And that they have been trained to the necessary standards and that they are suitably competent,” adds Stuart. If you any questions about safe systems of work for high risk activities, and would like to obtain more information, please call Katy Vaughan today on 08453 100 600 for your free no obligation quote. - ENDS -

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