DAfT - Health and Safety is unnecessary 'red tape'

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by 185, 14 Nov 2011.

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  1. 185

    185 Established Member

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    Oh deary. Don't know whether this gives out the right message.

    The first five themes of the Red Tape challenge campaign are:
    Retail
    Hospitality, food and drink
    Road transportation
    Equalities
    Health & Safety


    (Quote Theresa Sillier)

    So hidden amongst the sale of Mars bars and equal rights for people that find blue trains offensive, is health and safety.

    Is this seriously wrong?
    http://nds.coi.gov.uk/clientmicrosi...02&NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=421989&SubjectId=36
     
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  3. SS4

    SS4 Established Member

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    This is a good opportunity that mustn't be wasted to bring some common sense back to the railways while ensuring important aspects remain. Unfortunately, I can see it being blown or simply ignored where it conflicts with TOCs'/DfT's interests.

    Take the quote below, will Joe Public going to know enough about suitable line speeds? Probably not. Will TOCs? Almost certainly.


    I can see the cutting of red tape leading to increased discretion for TOCs though who may or may not pass it onto their guards which will lead to a decentralised railways in turn leading to complaints about passengers getting charged a small excess on VT but a full anytime on LM travelling between WVH and BHI for example which leads to regulation again.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I know from my own experiences in the public sector that a "Champion" actually does very little and instead postures about self-importantly
     
  4. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    Not at all seriously wrong; what they mean is the ludicrous over-use of the phrase "Elf n Safety" as as a justification for all manner of sillinesses. Even if it may actually have nothing to do with the Health & Safety people at all, it's the way that it's such an easy thing to resort to by any jobsworth who wants to prevent someone from doing something.
     
  5. 12CSVT

    12CSVT Established Member

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    I think we need to be extremely careful that a document claiming to be about simplifying health & safety regulations doesn't result in giving railway companies the green light to cut corners.

    All the safety procedures and regulations in the rule book are there for a reason.
     
  6. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    One particular silliness which I find has become quite entrenched is the application of sound Risk Management techniques (specifically the avoidance of risk) to purely commercial or customer-service risks.

    There is no comparison in my mind between preventing something because it presents a potential hazard to someone's safety and preventing something because it presents a potential hazard of incurring a loss or an penalty attribution.
    Both can be assessed, both can be managed, but they don't both merit absolute avoidance.
     
  7. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    indeed; but those, the rules that govern rail operation, were developed from years of experience, by people who knew the business inside out. They're based on basic sense and an awareness of what it's possible to guard against. The modern trend is for bureaucrats who may have no actual knowledge of the area concerned at all to invent rules that say that something that may have been done, perfectly safely as long as people use a bit of sense, for centuries can no longer be allowed because, just possibly, one day an accident might happen.
     
  8. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    Unfortunately Pandora's Box health and safety wise was opened when HMRI were transferred to the HSE. Whereas the old Railway Inspectorate was led by experienced leaders of men, the HSE was a microcosm of all that remains wrong with the civil service in this Country.

    Having failed to manage safety in the workplace for years, it then set about systematically destroying the relationship between HMRI and the Railway Industry and reduced the Inspectorate to a bunch of deskbound safety auditors. This sad legacy remains, with HMRI now spending much of their time chasing paper trails in Railway operating licences rather than being out and about. Then again when they do venture out of their offices we see daft enforcement against the major Infratsructure Contractors over simple issues rather than the Inspector having the balls to tackle to area where the real problem is - Network Rail.

    With regards to any easement in H&S it is very unlikely because the legal system and the compensation culture have firmly become embedded in saftey management. The more ridiculous stories have their roots within a framework where companies, local authorities, organisations, etc, etc are so scared of being sued that they operate an avoid if at all possible approach.

    Unfortunately the public themselves have created this situation with their avarice and demands for punishment against anyone who is perceived by them to be "in the wrong". There is no such condition as absolute safety yet this is what the legal system and ambulance chasing lawyers preach.
     
  9. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I must say that I agree, strongly, with that summary, OT.
    This is what I refer to as risk-aversion. It no longer matters to any Operator whether it is a safety hazard or a commercial hazard. The risk is costed and prevention against both is treated equally. If its likely to lead to costly complaints, then we'll not risk offering the service.
    [To be fair to the rail industry, just the same culture seems to have developed in the education and health care sectors (and probably Local Authorities in general). Hospital beds are unavailable to those in need while they are occupied by healthy patients recovering from world-class surgery but who may sue for the slightest inconvenience in the subsequent days].
    The rail industry has been 'forced' into deploying increasing proportions of its resources into risk-mitigation rather than into physical 'improvements'.

    Quite agree. What has annoyed me on this forum recently has been posts by passengers 'outraged' by trivial inconveniences (while they enjoy the magnificent convenience of being conveyed by rail on a regular basis) but whose outrage (e.g. lack of seats) and complaint culture is only going to lead to the only thing a risk-averse culture can do in response: a further loss of service as trains with apparently minor failings (lack of reservations, lack of access, lack of catering, lack of capacity) are taken out of service and pushed into the realm of the consumer complaint.

    The more consumers complain, then the more they get to complain about. And in the process, we all suffer.
     
  10. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    I agree with you both - the legislation might change, but companies will still be too scared to weaken H&S (as they are frightened of being sued).

    Its not bad H&S legislation, its compensation culture in the courts that is the problem
     
  11. bignosemac

    bignosemac Established Member

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    Do you not mean ORR's Safety Directorate? HMRI ceased to be a couple of years ago.
     
  12. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    The title for the Department changed but they are still known as Her Majesty's Railway Inspectors and continue to be known by that title within the Industry.
     
  13. 455driver

    455driver On Moderation

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    As far as this H&S red tape goes, the whole country needs a massive dose of common sense and personal accountability!

    Those "I was walking through reception and the floor was wet" adverts really wind me up, why can she not watch where she is bloody walking! <D<D

    The "oh there isnt a sign saying I cant so it must be allowed" lot need a SCB* round the back of the head as well, and I am allowed to do it because there isnt a sign saying I cant! :lol:

    *Short Circuit Bar.

    Ah that feels better.
     
  14. NSEFAN

    NSEFAN Established Member

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    I agree with you, but as has been said, the compensation culture is well established. I've seen the adverts for no-win-no-fee being shown on childrens' TV channels, a practice which has being going on for years. Is it any wonder people can't take personal responsibility when they've been conditioned that their problems are the fault of others? :roll:

    Health and Safety should be there to enshrine in law a set of rules for safe working and practices. Instead, it is now also used as an easy excuse to avoid potential run-ins with compensation parasites, which is why "elf and safety" is seen as a joke.
     
  15. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    Im sure there are a few obsolete safety rules in the book however the Conservative Government sees anything which protects the safety or rights of the people as 'harmful red tape'.
     
  16. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    Some examples to back this up perhaps ?
     
  17. SS4

    SS4 Established Member

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    Much as I hate the Tories I can't see anything that protects the people as fair game.
     
  18. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    They wanted to axe maternity leave longer than a month, human rights act, employment rights (for example sick days/holidays) for agency workers. They want to introduce a new category of dismissal for poor performance (which is fair enough, some managers feel they have to invent a reason to get rid of people) however they want no right of appeal of unfair dismissal for this reason, so you could instantly dismiss any worker for 'poor performance' without having to defend it which im sure would become the reason of choice :roll: . Their proposing that business with 10 or less employees would be exempt from employment tribunals. They want to raise the deposit for employment tribunals from the employee making the claim from £500 to £10,000 (how many people can afford to put up a £10k bond in order to contest their dismissal?). They want to exempt certain service industries from TUPE when the ownership of a business changes including valet, cleaning, waiting, catering. They want to remove the onus on the business to redeploy a redudant worker if possible, instead they will require the business to support them finding a job at another company.
     
  19. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    Interesting that none of these relate to health and safety, which was what you inferred.

    Maybe it would be helpful if you would reveal the "full" story behind these various points, for example Industrial Tribunals are being used even when there is no valid case on the basis that it is easier for a Company to simply pay out rather than to pay the costs of engaging a legal team to defend the claim.

    I do find it most annoying when people such as you come along, with these "look what the nasty Tories are doing" stories when in actual fact the detail behind makes a degree of sense to anyone who has asked the reasoning behind them. I presume these have been handpicked from some disingenuous website somewhere.

    If you really want to knock a Political party why not have a go at the previous Labour Governments who did so much to damage the ability of people to make genuine claims. I speak from the experience of supporting someone whith a real genuine grievance who was basically told that they would have to fund their own costs as well as those of the Company if they lost, and that any compensation would be reduced by the amount of money they had earnt since being dismissed. They were also told that Labour had removed the previous ability for an IT to award special damages, and that any settlement would be based upon a formula which had previously not been used. The net result of all these changes was to severely increase the difficulties faced by genuine cases, whilst stupid Employment regulations enacted allowed frivolous claims to go ahead with no risk.

    Several years ago, I was sent on a special course that dealt with interviewing and recruitment, as my then Company forbade anyone not trained from doing this. The reason ? The need to avoid frivolous litigation. The training Company then went through a series of cases where the litigant had seized on simple remarks and then had taken the Company concerned to an IT where they actually won money. There were also a list of names of people who were engaged in the "interview roundabout". They simply turned up, waited for the Interviewer to make a slip up and then wrote to the Company demanding "compensation" or a to expect an IT claim.

    Your post suggests very strongly someone who has never had to manage large numbers of staff, or who has had to tender competitively for work.
     
    Last edited: 16 Nov 2011
  20. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    Industrial Tribunals have been called Employment Tribunals since 1998 which suggests you arent up to date on employment rules, not that it makes much difference as apart from the name change there have been no rules changes since they were first introduced in 1964. Administered by ACAS they follow guidance set forth by the Secretary of State.

    Costs are as they have always been, though they would have previously generally been borne by a union, nowadays combined union membership is only something like 3m people and most people have to finance their own claims or use no win-no fee lawyers, its these which have caused the boom in claims as its removed the plainitives need to put down a deposit and pay for a losing case, the boom in the legal industry (a change to advertising rules) brought forth the much higher litigation.

    We are already working under the current administrations guidance which was issued in January.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/...ent-tribunal-reform-What-the-experts-say.html

    No win-no Fee was you may be surprised to hear introduced by the Conservative Government in 1990 and came into force in 1995.
     
    Last edited: 16 Nov 2011
  21. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    WatcherZero
    Would you please address the points YOU raised and let us have the stated reasons for the changes, all in order so that we may make a balanced decision based on all the facts rather than those quoted in isolation ?
     
  22. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    Absolutely true, however some H&S "rules" are just plain stupid and do nothing to enhance safety indeed some even compromise safety by enhancing delays.

    One which seems to have developoed over the years is that of assisting trains from behind when there is a brake fault on the failed train. In BR days we just used to bang the units together mechanically, connect the emergency Schrader hose and blow off the parking brakes and then push forward to the nearest station. These days as I understand it we now have to have an operative brake throughout the train, and thus the assisting train has to be fully coupled this of course serves only to transfer of the fault - naturally - so no-one is going anywhere.

    Then there is this ridiculous scenario about only moving one train at a time through a junction during points failure situations, which came about from a complete over-reaction to one incident. The disruption that it causes must increase overall risk much more, but no-one dare challende this.

    It is unfortunately all to do with a culture where no-one will accept a reasond judgement based on experience, but require details Faul Tree and Quantitative Risk Analyses, for even the most simple of things.

    I am currently working on a job with a Heavy Haul Railway. Their rules require complete separation between moving trains and people, which is OK for day to day maintenance, but we are working on a proposal to do some major work which means that the existing rules are too rigid and inflexible to allow us to undertake the work in a particularly efficient manner.

    Just now I am writing a policy document that will allow us to go onto the lines with trains running using a mix of ATWS, LOWS and traditional Lookoutman systems. Fortunately the client is sufficiently intellectual to understand that an easement will not necessarily raise his risk profile dramatically, although it will rise.

    Ultimately it is all down to a balance of risk against cost. Nothing is without risk. We all feel safe in our own living rooms but being on atrain is many times safer. Now if we reduced the risk on a train to the same level and were able to reduce fares to reflect this, would people be willing to accept that level of risk ?
     
  23. brianthegiant

    brianthegiant Member

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    Some good point made on this thread. My experience of working on British and continental construction sites, is that in mainland europe you have more people who have proper apprentice training and are then trusted to do their job safely and sensibly. In this country, you can walk into too many trades after one or two 'short courses' but then are heavily restricted by endless rules and procedures.
    On this basis, I often tend to argue for better staff training for risk reduction rather than additional procedures, but its an uphill struggle.

    On the subject of employment tribunals, I suppose it's an implicit property of a legal process, but my experience is that the outcome is too heavily based on whether the written processes were followed by either party, rather than the fundamental rights & wrongs of the main issue.
     
  24. moggie

    moggie Member

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    OT, The trouble is with all these sorts of 'initiatives' (and another - think McNulty) is the industry gets into a feeding frenzy of 'innovative' ill thought through ideas on ways to smooth away 'constraints to efficient operating' and numerous other reasons that didn't seem to have such a high profile as they do today - why is that? Usually put there for sound reasons (often lost in time) in the holy grail of demonstrating a saving or three as demanded by our lords and masters and conveniently labelled as unnecesary on little evidence.

    One of my biggest bugbears is that people like me are relied upon for our judgement calls based on knowledge and experience to look after the up and coming guys in this industry, yet constant change in a fragmented industry where rationale is often not explained only serves to undermine our current knowledge. Lack of support for change is seen as obstruction and experience is ignored when it doesn't align with new innovative thinking.

    So your removal of one train at a time handsignalling rule book requirement at the same time as we in the signal engineering side are under pressure to simplify interlocking controls (risk assess away) for flank protection for example, results in the inevitable scenario of a train on one line in a complex junction area with unusual point layouts being handsignalled erroneously into the path of a train on an adjacent line travelling at linespeed due to one simple error made in a difficult / stressful situation - god forbid.

    There is precious little evidence of joined up thinking these days (not saying it isn't there but it is rarely evident to many of us in the industry) and those with a detailed practical knowledge of both signalling systems and operations grow ever shorter to ensure proper, unbiased debate and scrutiny. As you have commented before many times, there are plenty of cattle hearders out there - you know better than I. Take away, or water down the rules and these people will have a field day - they find it hard to stick to them as it is and i fear it will most certainly result in someone else paying for their foolhardiness. Sure - change is inevitable but we suffer increasingly from forced change with as you say little challenge to maintain a degree of status quo where it's proven to work well (safe).

    Belt and braces may be wasteful in the eyes of some but when the belt is removed and your braces become disconncted you know where your trousers are!
     
    Last edited: 22 Dec 2011
  25. mrpsb

    mrpsb Member

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    Actually some of the points raised (Maternity leave, sick pay and holidays, easier performance-related dismissal) are very much health and safety issues, but there is a strong tendency to overlook the word "health" in H&S. It isn't just about preventing single events, despite that being the way it is used in everyday conversation.

    The issue with making dismissal easier for "poor performers" is it won't be used in the spirit it is intended - it will be used as a stick to beat "average" performers with rather than to get rid of people it's claimed to be aimed at, who won't put the effort in and think they can't be sacked. Lots of people are in favour of it, because nobody thinks it will ever be aimed at them as they're "exceptional performers". Still, it's motivational, it'll increase productivity and never mind the long-term effects of continual stress in the workplace, stress is only a pretend problem with no actual physical impacts!


    The problem is the stories do look reasonable at a glance, mostly because people are generally of the opinion that they're only going after the "bad ones", and they won't be affected, which is all well and good until they are. What happens when someone feels they are unfairly treated? They now either can't afford to appeal to the ET, or indeed don't even have the right to appeal.


    What you're saying above can be summarised as "the company threatened and bullied the person out of making an ET claim by lying to them so they dropped their claim without having the benefit of professional advice". I'm struggling to see how lack of proper representation for the employee was the fault of the Labour Government.

    If large numbers of genuine cases are dissuaded by this kind of argument from their employer, how is guaranteeing that there will be significant cost upfront regardless of outcome going to specifically dissuade "frivolous" cases and only allow "genuine" ones to proceed. Still, it's a good recruiting tool for the Unions, because now workers will find it even harder to find the funds to be able to afford an ET case themselves.

    You went on a training course on how to interview fairly, without structuring your interviews to disadvantage certain people unfairly? Eh? Were the examples given by the training company all from your company, or were they cherry picked absolute worst examples from a large number of companies? I have no doubt there are a few individuals that do the rounds looking for payouts, do the actions of a few invalidate all ET claims of all types where there is at very least a case for the employer to answer?

    Mine probably does too, except I have, so apologies for that.
     
  26. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    Hello Chap, and firstly Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

    I agree about the belt and braces, and for example I was horrified to discover that flanking protection is now very much on the non-mandatory list ! The argument being used is TPWS.

    In the UK the Industry seems to be in a form of tail spin with the safety "professionals" taking over from experience and judgement, we thus end up with easements to conventional signalling rules, yet at the same time finding more and more ridiculous restrictions on simple things such as assistance to failed trains ? How many accidents have there been involving failed trains being assisted against accidents prevented by signalling controls ? - Rhetorical question before anyone else decides to scour Wikipedia.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    You seem to think that poor performance is simply a matter of an interview and then its P45 time. It is not. It is a very long-winded and very time-consuming process. There is an easier and quicker way of removing someone from the workplace - its called a Compromise Agreement.
     
  27. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    Absolute bullocks. Stress does result in physical manifestations and is by no means a pretend problem.
     
  28. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    Employment Tribunals generally sit in judgement of unfair dismissals. The vast majority of employers will have Grievance Procedures, and in many instances these will be supported by membership of a Trade Union of some description. If not there are plenty of No Win No Fee practices out there who would take on such cases.

    The Company did not bully the person and your interpretation of what are simple words is quite incorrect. The Company had the back up of financial clout, which my colleague did not. The ability to go to an ET without funds was severely reduced again by Labour, and the result of this is that you go there needing a large amount of money, which even if you are lucky and win, the money spent on your case can no longer be recovered from the losing side, neither may the ET award you costs. Indeed they cannot even award you anything above a set calculation (Labour again) and have had the ability to award punitive damages removed (Labour again).

    Any money you do win will be reduced by the amount of money you have earned since being dismissed. Even this requires a demonstartion that you have actively sought ANY work, and not work simply within your field, so a Manager would be expected to take on any menial job by comparison, which would seriously hamper his/her chances of returning to a Managerial role in the future - Labour again by the way.

    It was Peter Mandelson who took serious steps to emasculate the powers of the Tribunals. Very little fuss from the Trade Unions of course because it was a Labour not a Conservative Government who did this so it was OK in their eyes.

    Again you misunderstand. The Company, along with most large responsible Companies, does not wish to see its name appearing at ETs.

    Recruitment is now a minefield because of PC attitudes and Laws (most passed by Labour) which mean that even commenting on the tie someone is wearing can result in a claim for damages being brought in the event that the person is not offered a job. The Company Trainers gave very clear examples of cases brought and won by those who "do the rounds" and who are now known to most big Companies.

    Without this experience all a person has is a view which they cannot validate or support through personal experience.

    That is all well and good but does not give them the ability to gainsay someone who does have this experience and sets out examples. That was my point



    Quite correct old chap.

    I have worked with people who have had stress and also suffered from PTSD. It is not very nice at all.

    From a Manager's perspective it is also a problem, as you are running without your full contingent and you know that someone could fall down at short notice.

    I have had people come into my office and ask to be reduced in the ranks, and I have had a devil of a job to persuade them to hang on. These are usually excellent people who are a credit to themselves. The problem is that when someone is off with stress you not only have their salary to pay, but also the additional costs of cover which generally is the engagement of a Contractor at some point in the organisation, which again increases cost.

    No major employer wants stressed staff and only those who hold partisan views will not accept this and the fact that it is enormously costly.
     
    Last edited: 22 Dec 2011
  29. brianthegiant

    brianthegiant Member

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    Yep, the impact excess stress has on people can manifest as chronic fatigue syndrome, digestive disorders, migraines, insomnia, depression, alcoholism and numerous other physical and mental illnesses.
     
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