Health and Safety; which is the right approach?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jrh2254, 2 May 2015.

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  1. jrh2254

    jrh2254 Member

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    A few weeks ago I was travelling on the Cross Country service from Birmingham NS to Leeds. It was a HST 7 coach. As the train was pulling out of the station a rather intoxicated man jumped up out of his seat and pulled the door window down and threw himself out and onto the platform narrowly missing being dragged under the train. The station staff took him away!
    The train continues out of the station initially oblivious to what has happened and then about 1/2 a mile outside the station comes to a stop. The train manager announces there has been an 'incident' and the train waits about 20 minutes before continuing. This must have caused chaos on the network and disrupted my journey.
    Now when I was in China a few years ago I was travelling on a rather crammed bus. The bus pulls up at the side of the road, the doors open and a man steps off the bus. However a motor bike passes between the bus and the side of the road and knocks the man over as he is stepping off the bus leaving him injured at the side of the road. The bus driver looks in his mirror to see that the man is off his bus (the force of the motor bike throws the man off his bus) and he drives off. No disruption to my journey.
    Which is the right approach?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Another example. My train pulls into Derby Station and I can see that the train manager is speaking with what appears to be a 'fare dodger'. The 'fare dodger' is apprehended by station staff and the train manager speaks to them. However the 'fare dodger' will not let the train manager get back onto his train moving between the train and the train manager. The station staff do not lay a finger on the 'fare dodger' presumably as they are not allowed to. This goes on for about 25 minutes delaying my journey. I (and several other people) rang the police and when they arrive after 25 mins they take the man away and the train manager in a very professional way continues onwards to Birmingham but now about 30 mins late.
    Now in China I am sure the man would have been immediately restrained and no disruption to my journey.
    Which is the right approach? and are there other examples people have seen?
     
  2. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

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  3. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    The problem is that many people make up their own rules nowadays, perhaps this due to fear of litigation. There is often no Health and Safety legislation which should enforce such action. Also, the words "common sense" are being eroded.
     
  4. broadgage

    broadgage Member

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    In the particular case referred to in the O/P I see no merit in stopping or delaying the train.
    If a drunk exits via the window, is this likely to cause any damage to the train that prevents safe onward travel ? Most unlikely, so no need to delay the train for that reason.
    Despite being the author of his own misfortune, the drunk who is now on the platform still "deserves" medical attention, but this is surely best offered by platform staff who can call an ambulance.
    Stopping the train, now about half a mile away does not assist in any way the drunk, so no point in holding the train for that reason.

    Other cases may be different, but in this particular case I see no merit in delaying the train.
     
  5. QueensCurve

    QueensCurve Established Member

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    To comment only on this incident, one of the words we don't often hear these days is "misadventure". In this case, throwing yourself out of the train is a misadventure. Had he died or been seriously injured however the railway would fear that it would not be seen as "death by misadventure" but as something they would have a "reasonably practicable" duty to have prevented. That is not to say that that is right or wrong, it is just where we are.

    Given that someone was or may have been injured, and that it could have been a near miss for a fatality, it seem is reasonable that the companies (and/or BTP) involved should investigate the circumstances of the event. It is difficult to see however how this investigation could have been helped by delaying the train. Irrespective of priorities that just seems pointless.

    I would observe that opening windows on trains are perfectly safe if used sensibly and with due respect but it is the change of culture that denies misadventure and turns the death of a foolish person into a potential prosecution or compensation event that leads us increasingly to being denied opening windows which I for one find diminishes the traveling experience.

    That is not to say there is anything wrong with health and safety law - just that there may be more scope for misadventure to be recognised as a defence.
     
  6. NSEFAN

    NSEFAN Established Member

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    The reason for the subsequent delay may have been to check the train for faults. It probably had to be confirmed that it was just a drunken idiot jumping from the window, rather than something more serious like a wrong-side failure of the door mechanism. As has been said, the railway carries a lot of responsibility so it has to be sure that there's nothing wrong with the train before continuing. Better to be safe than sorry.
     
  7. bavvo

    bavvo Member

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    Might be justified if there was the possibility that the door lock was in some way faulty (unlikely I know). Was the door inspected? If the lock was in some way not securing the door and someone else subsequently fell out there would be a massive outcry.
     
  8. dosxuk

    dosxuk Member

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    I'd expect the chances of there being a faulty door mechanism are probably higher than someone choosing to throw themselves out of a window of a moving train, so if I was driver/guard on that train, I'd want to check for myself that there's nothing wrong with the door involved before continuing on the journey. As others said, if it did prove to be a faulty door and someone else fell out and the train staff had decided to ignore the reports of the first person leaving the train there would serious questions asked.


    Incidentally, I note you're blaming Health & Safety for these issues - would you mind pointing us in the direction of the H&S laws which caused them? It's a common cry that H&S is to blame for all the country's woes, but it's only in a fraction of those cases that there is actually any H&S legislation even involved. Personally, I'd rather be living in the country where they like to check things are safe, rather than the one where you get abandoned at the side of the road after being hit by a motorcycle.
     
  9. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

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    Indeed, one of the reasons that many rules have been implemented is down to the litigious aspects and the feeling there is a need for the CYOA (Cover Your Own A***) approach but the majority of rules are there for the protection of the public and the workforce. It is why you are far safer 30'000 feet up in the air on a plane than in your own kitchen or the driver of a train has a miniscule risk of being killed at work compared to a forklift truck operator.
     
  10. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    This is very true - and the cause of that has been no-win no-fee lawyers, and how easy it is to sue someone. I must admit I'd like to see the burden of proof on a civil case changed from the present "on the balance of probabilities" to "beyond reasonable doubt" as it is for a criminal case - that might well back it off a bit.

    In general, though, I think there is a balance - I agree with the point about misadventure, but equally I wouldn't leave someone bleeding by the side of the road. I also think we owe a greater duty of care to children.

    So for example I support the provision of central door locking if only to avoid a situation I once saw of seeing a small child fiddling with the door lock on a Class 101 set, who while they are quite difficult to open might have succeeded in doing so and been killed had nobody noticed it. But if an adult opens a droplight and jumps out of it, that's their own fault and nobody else's - they obviously did something that you (a) aren't meant to do, and (b) is not particularly easy to do by accident. That said, I would give them first aid, take them to hospital, call them an ambulance etc, while the whole time calling them an idiot.

    To use another example - I would have no issue with any adults who, when stuck on the train for hours after the Southern incident this week, pulled the release on the near side and evacuated themselves. I wouldn't consider it worth wasting police time pursuing them - they were an adult, they took the decision to do something that posed risk to themselves - their own choice. Nothing to see here, close the doors, ding ding, off we go, as it were.

    So basically my line is - stop people from *accidentally* doing something silly (i.e. design in safety) - but if someone *deliberately* does something stupid and gets hurt, it's their own problem, though I would pick up the pieces while (assuming they survived) making no doubt that they were stupid, with none of this "he was wonderful" stuff that gets printed in the Press every time you hear of a drug dealer getting shot. He got shot because he was a drug dealer. He was stupid, not "wonderful".
     
    Last edited: 2 May 2015
  11. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    So what in your opinion does the expression 'common sense' mean?
     
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    To me, "common sense" is things that are glaringly obvious to any adult who spends a tiny amount of time thinking about it.

    For example, it is "common sense" that jumping out of a train window is a stupid thing to do. Any reasonable adult can see that it is an action that will put their life in danger.
     
  13. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    In the context of the above reported incident, and Philipe's assertion that the words 'common sense' are being eroded, (or their meaning at least), the point of applying any such common sense would be after the event has happened and deciding whether to stop the train, to carry on regardless, to go back (if possible) or whatever. The fact that the situation was caused by a random irresponsible act is not in question, (whether the person falling out was pushed, co-erced or it was voluntary etc.), but in effect, the whole situation could be declared a crime scene, and anybody taking unilateral action to impede any investigation could be subject to action by the BTP or local constabulary. That applies whether it inconveniences any passengers, either on that train or any subsequently affected by the delay, the TOC, NR or either of their reputations and anybody else. Unless there is a safety hazard caused by not proceeding, I don't blame anybody who waits for their superior or the law authorities to give them a go-ahead, irrespective of any rants from the inconvenienced few.
     
  14. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    Haven't you ever heard of it ?
     
  15. ian1944

    ian1944 Member

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    I don't seem to have one of those, but it would be handy sometimes.
     
  16. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Like it :)
     
  17. dysonsphere

    dysonsphere Member

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    Quite most so "Health and Saftey so called rules) have no legal existince but ppl claim there rules are enforacable by law, THEY ARN`T.(well some are) I was working on a lighting truss a few years ago and some busybody insisted I wore the hi viz vest required on the ground, refused and hung it at bottom of support leg as normal, they are far too loose and catch on everything in the rigging, so far safer to leave at bottom. Disscussion with site manager later and explaing led to earache for gusybody and a carry on as normal for me.
     
  18. Pigeon

    Pigeon Member

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    True (and exacerbated by those responsible for being a nuisance using "H&S mate" as an excuse), but a red herring. The point is that the problems are caused by deficiencies in the legal system, whether those deficiencies are in that specific part defined as "H&S legislation" or not. "H&S" has come to be used by the general public as a convenient "umbrella" term for the whole situation, and it's not important whether or not that usage is technically correct. Such usages are the norm for lay discussion of specialist matters, and their correctness or otherwise is unrelated to the fact of the existence of an undesirable situation.

    ...see also the thread on what happens when aircon packs up...

    The above two comments are spot on. The problem is we have somehow allowed ourselves to get into a situation where the legal system supports the mindset that anything that goes wrong is (a) always someone's fault, and (b) never the fault of the person involved. A lot of nonsense is talked about "duty of care" but nobody is ever admitted to have failed in their common-sense "duty of care" to themselves. Anyone who suffers any misfortune is encouraged to blame it on someone else for monetary gain, and the more people who succeed in doing this the easier it becomes for other people to do it. A bad legal decision becomes a "precedent" which is allowed to justify future bad decisions of the same type, and a runaway situation develops. Legislative action by the government is required to reverse the runaway, but no government will take such action, not least because "safety" is one of those evil words which not only derails discussion into a morass of emotive nonsense and throws rationality out of the window, but is deliberately used to achieve that effect.

    The law needs to be changed so that the default assumption is: either "it was an accident, and not anybody's fault to any meaningful degree", or "it was your own fault for being stupid", and to challenge this assumption requires a very powerful and watertight argument. If someone wanders into a disused tunnel and falls over and hurts themselves, that is a plain simple accident, no different from falling over in your own house in the dark; any "duty of care" aspect is primarily and overwhelmingly the person's own "duty of care" to themselves to take a torch with them and look where they're putting their feet. If someone sticks their head out of a train window and gets it knocked off (like Vyvyan), let alone actually jumps out of the window, then the injury is entirely their own fault for being stupid and the response of any court should be "it's your own fault for being stupid; you are hereby ordered to pay n thousand pounds as a penalty for wasting the court's time with idiotic rubbish".

    The idea that there is an obligation to protect people from their own stupidity needs to be thoroughly rooted out. Take the matter of long trains stopping at short platforms. There is no need at all for the choice to be between installing elaborate and expensive systems for selective door opening or not allowing the train to stop there at all. There is a perfectly good instinct of self-preservation which is so deeply ingrained that it manifests itself before people are even old enough to walk - as demonstrated by the well-known experiment in which babies refuse to crawl over the edge of a drop underneath a glass floor. If someone is so deficient in that instinct that they will blithely step off a train into several feet of nothing without even bothering to look where they're going then they shouldn't even be going out without a minder in the first place; the railway does not, in any rational assessment, have any obligation at all to guard against someone lacking an instinct which is fundamental not only to humans but to any other species which can damage itself by falling. (And nor does it matter if they have suppressed that instinct by getting ****ed out of their skull, since that is self-inflicted.)
     
  19. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Yes of course. Why do you ask that?
     
  20. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    I thought you asked it
     
  21. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

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    So basically it was your own fault for not obtaining the correct size three or four piece Velcro attached hi-vi. Some H & S rules may not be legally binding but those in charge can still refuse you site access if you refuse to wear personal PPE. Do you also refuse to wear hard hats and safety footwear on site? It may not be law but it is still a rule - no PPE, no job.
     
  22. edwin_m

    edwin_m Established Member

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    There are very few things that are explicitly required or forbidden under "Health and Safety Legislation", at least that concern the "person in the street". The main item of legislation is the 1974 Act which places a duty on employers to safeguard the safety of their employees and the public, and on employees not to endanger themselves or others (better summaries are no doubt available, I just made that one up).

    It would be unworkable to try to prescribe in law what this means for every situation, so the Act leaves it at that and companies have to do their own risk assessments to work out what measures they should take. Unfortunately there are several problems with risk assessments:

    - Some people just don't bother
    - Some people forget the reasonably practicable bit and think something must be done to reduce every risk they have identified
    - Related to the above, some people don't think whether their assessment will actually increase the risk by worsening some unrelated hazard
    - The nature of the hazard is not always communicated to those who have to apply the precautions

    Wearing a hi-vis when climbing a lighting tower is an example of the last two points. The hi-vis is presumably necessary to be visible from vehicles when on the ground but (leaving aside any low-flying aircraft) there is no similar hazard when up a tower. And if it snags on something while at height this could create a new hazard.

    The often-criticised requirement for wearing hard hats when walking trackside is one that doesn't seem to have been explained fully. I believe it's because there is a risk of objects falling or being thrown from passing trains.
     
  23. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    OK let's try this again.

    in post #3, you said: "....the words "common sense" are being eroded."
    in post #11, I said: "So what in your opinion does the expression 'common sense' mean?"
    in post #14, you said: "Haven't you ever heard of it ?"
    in post #19 I answered your post ~14 saying: "Yes of course." then asked "Why do you ask that?"
    now in post # you said: "I thought you asked it". So now I'm confused.

    to recap:
    I asked you what in your opinion does the expression 'common sense' mean?

    You chose not to answer that and answered with a question Haven't you ever heard of it ?

    I answered Yes of course. and asked another question Why do you ask that?

    You haven't answered my original question and now, what does I thought you asked it mean?
     
  24. Phil from Mon

    Phil from Mon Member

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    I think what it boils down to is that a lot of people doing risk assessments will assess the hazard (what could happen and what its consequences would be) and not the risk (what are the chances of this happening). Of course, the degree of acceptable risk will change according to the severity of the hazard.
     
  25. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    The standard method of risk assessment does both so any reputable organisation will employ a scoring table. The only leeway in applying the results is which scores require action and which are conveniently ignored. Look at the industries of rail/airline and compare them with construction/builders.
     
  26. Phil from Mon

    Phil from Mon Member

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    Your comparison is very apt.

    However, I am not sure about "any" reputable organisation, although it does depend on what you mean by reputable of course. From the plethora of stories in the press I very much doubt whether many in local government use it, and certainly my own (higher education) has come up with a few ludicrous ideas in the past.
     
    Last edited: 3 May 2015
  27. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Possibly so - but if the site did have it as their rule they could enforce it by asking you to leave site if you don't comply - a contractual matter, basically.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    And in which scores are allocated to which items, particularly in the "likelihood" column. It is incredibly subjective.
     
  28. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    And this is the point of this thread. Those responsible for the holding of the train would be working to laid-down procedures for what was known at first to be an event. The OP made no mention of whether any rail staff went into the coach from which the person jumped, to establish whether the person was threatened etc.. That would take time away from a station, irrespective of how many trains were stacked up behind the OP's one. If the incident involved serious issues and it ended up in court because the train carried on, the excuse that they avoided a 20 minute delay would be rejected by a court. Nobody else on the train had their health or safety put at risk from their journey being extended by such a short time.

    I agree but if you don't do one, standing in the dock and saying that they are incredibly subjective so you don't believe in them is a quick-fire way to a conviction. Ultimately, you may also be judged on the consequences of a functional risk assessment matrix so not taking its weighting seriously could also land you in trouble.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    It is encumbent on any employer to have a risk assessment for any hazardous process, equipment, materials etc.. That can be as benign as the office tea kettle, desk and chair stability, door signage etc..
    The ones responsible that don't have any plans and, following a H&S incident, end up in court, frequently get a criminal record which can include significant cost penalties and custodial sentences.
    I can't believe that any local government in the UK doesn't comply with the legal requirements. There could of course be some of their employees who flaunt the rules because they consider their 'common sense' superior to those rules. That would be despite the facts that they may not know the full situation or have the necessary technical skills.
     
  29. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Perhaps they are blind? Technology allows SDO to be implemented quite easily, I don't have an issue with it.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I think you're misunderstanding my point. My point was not that they should not be done. My point was that you and I may well do the same risk assessment template on the same thing and come up with two different results based on our own views and mindsets. Having more than one person at a meeting to do it would of course help.

    To use the example of the person working at height and being required to wear hi-vis, we might have:

    Risk: being hit by large vehicle with blind spots e.g. lorry
    Mitigation: wear hi-vis when in areas where vehicles move

    Or we might have:

    Risk: being hit by large vehicle with blind spots e.g. lorry
    Mitigation: wear hi-vis at all times when on site

    Both of those are valid - though many would plump for the latter because it removes the chance of forgetting to put it back on, though as the other poster mentioned it might in itself introduce other risks.

    You've then got the severity and likelihood factors, which might be taken differently by different people. You may well have a set of descriptions, but even they are human - the only one that is absolute is death!

    My point overall is that it is *not* an absolute process, though formalising it helps with some level of standardisation and paper trail. Even if score N is defined as acceptable by an employer, it doesn't take much to write it differently so a borderline risk appears on the side the writer wants it to.

    To me, the most important thing about RA is therefore not the absolute figures, but the fact that in doing it you have brainstormed and thought about risks, and considered ways to reduce them where appropriate. This is why I take the view that printing a pre-prepared RA and saying "RA done", as is not uncommon, is a bad thing - it creates a mindset *not* to think about it. You should never stop assessing risk just because you have a piece of paper done! :)
     
  30. dosxuk

    dosxuk Member

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    Then the problem is the people misusing and misunderstanding the terms, not with the actual rules, as you go on to demonstrate...

    No, no, no - a million times - no.

    One of the main reasons we have such a low industrial death rate in this country is the current H&S laws. By placing the onus on those responsible for keeping things safe for employees and the public to prove they couldn't have prevented an accident has made working and living in this country far safer than many other equally developed countries.

    In my particular industry tens of people die each year in the States through industrial accidents, in this country it's almost always zero. It has got to the point that the industry in the US are adopting British standards for working to reduce their death rate - rules and standards that only exist in this country because of the HSaW act.

    The simple answer to this all is easy - risk assessment. What is the possible danger of someone getting into a disused tunnel = possible death or serious injury. What is the likelyhood = low to medium. How can we reduce that risk = secure the entrances - which then reduces the likelyhood to remote. Job done. Anyone breaking in there and then getting injured has defeated the measures taken by the owner, therefore the owner isn't liable for their injury.

    Actually, trains do continue to stop at short platforms without SDO. Those which have operated like this for their entire lives continue to do so. The reason these measures are being introduced is for when an additional stop is called for, a risk assessment has to be made, and it is a real risk that people will attempt to leave though a door which isn't at a platform edge.

    If it was such a good instinct, then people wouldn't do it. And since they do, and the risk of serious injury is pretty high, there needs to be measures taken to reduce that risk. Where those measures are reasonable, what harm is there in introducing them? In this case, SDO costs virtually nothing to fit to trains with fully automatic doors, and provides a simple defence against people being seriously injured, be that through their own fault or otherwise.

    As far as I understand it, many of the cases of people walking out unlocked doors occured at night, in remote areas. People get used to routine, and if you're used to it being poorly lit at your station, it would be easy to not notice the lack of platform, especially if distracted by someone asking a question, carrying heavy bags, or children running past (inside the carriage). In these cases, the railway does, in every rational assessment, have an obligation to prevent those people from innocently injuring themselves.

    H&S laws are not there to protect against stupidity, they are there to try and stop people from being injured or killed in reasonably preventable circumstances. If you don't believe that is a worthy goal, then I feel sorry for you and your lack of humanity. :(
     
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