On 31 July the Sentencing Council for England and Wales published a new guideline for manslaughter applicable to sentences handed down from 1 November (bit.ly/2wjpijJ). Although not specific to safety and health offences, the guideline is expected to lengthen the sentences received by individuals deemed responsible for gross negligence manslaughter (GNM) after fatal accidents at work. A previous article (bit.ly/2BWXw1J) outlined the starting points and ranges for each level of culpability, from one year for the lowest to 18 years for the highest with maximum aggravating factors.
ETTO – the efficiency-thoroughness trade-off – is an important part of Erik Hollnagel’s Safety II concept (ioshmagazine.com/article/s-safety-ii), which in turn influenced the safety differently approach described by Sidney Dekker and popularised in the UK by John Green, programme HSE director at Battersea Power Station Development Company. And yet, while just cultures, “the curious why” and hindsight bias have become popular ideas, ETTO doesn’t get much coverage.
Approved Codes of Practice (ACoPs) published by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are described in textbooks as having a “quasi-legal status”. The HSE never uses this term, instead explaining that each ACoP has “special legal status. If you are prosecuted for breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you have not followed the relevant provisions of the code, a court will find you at fault unless you can show that you have complied with the law in some other way.”
Are you a safety and health expert? If you Google “expert health and safety advice” thousands of results will appear on your screen. But the UK legislation and the Health and Safety Executive never refer to experts or expertise; they commonly use the term “competence”, stretching as far in one HSE document (INDG 420, bit.ly/2i0ULTM), as “specialist help”.
One requirement of the draft international standard ISO 45001 (DIS2, 2017) is for top management to ensure “the organisation establishes and implements a process for consultation and participation of workers” in the OSH management system. The previous draft (DIS1, 2016) expected management to show that they were “ensuring [my italics] active participation of workers and, where they exist, workers’ representatives”. Perhaps the change reflects that, as with horses and water, workers can be invited to the table, but cannot be made to participate.
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