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Work Place Competence

11/15/2006 4:52 AM

For my sins, I sit on a Local Authority – Business committee focusing on Health and Safety issues – primarily new legislation and how it affects each business.

A recent discussion concerned workplace transport, one of the more dangerous area's of work. A point that was raised by our resident consultant (known to one and all as anally retentive man) was travelling for work, something that most everybody has to do at one time or another. If you are involved in a road traffic accident while travelling for work, the police can hand over the investigation to the Health and Safety Executive (H.S.E.).

So if a BMW is in a prang on the M25 at 11.00am on a Tuesday, and the driver is wearing a suit, the assumption is that it's a workplace incident. If the H.S.E does become involved, they may not deem the driver competent to drive for work, even if he has a full UK license! They may want to know what further training the driver has been given by the employer.

The implications for businesses are quite alarming, as you are deemed to be travelling from the time you shut your front door.

I'm not going to discuss the implications for travelling abroad!

I wondered if any body has had any experience of this sort of thing?

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#1

Re: Work Place Competence

11/15/2006 11:35 AM

I think everyone has experience with that! It is a form of creeping socialism. My previous employer went so far over the edge in the name of safety that the department was the laughingstock of the company. They even created a near-miss form for employees to fill out for accidents that didn't happen!

The problem is really an expectation that a person will be looked over in such a way that the person no longer need concern themselves for their own safety. Why? We have a department dedicated to keeping me safe! So, I no longer need to lift my foot up when I walk. If I trip, it is someone else's fault and all my expenses will be paid along with compensation for my pain and suffering.

The idea is we surrender our responsibilities for ourselves to some other entity so we can be safer. Soon, nobody is responsible (take that multiple ways, please). In the UK you have surrendered your responsibility to protect yourself from bodily attack and you become the perpetrator if you do fight back in defense. More and more we rely on another entity to take care of us and more and more of us are becoming incapable of taking care of ourselves.

While the object goal is to make a safer world, there is a chilling after effect that defies common sense. Your BMW driver may have averted an accident if he had to shoulder the consequence of an accident. What if he did not have insurance, but was forced to pay for any damage he caused. Well, when the money for that damage comes out of someone else's pocket it isn't as much of an issue that it would be if it came directly out of his pocket. Unfortunately, there are those that don't care either way and we do need protection from them!

Yes accidents happen, but at the same time if the safety nets are removed most people tend to use due care when carrying out a task. Those that don't sadly get selected out of the gene pool.

It's a two-edged sword!

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: Work Place Competence

11/16/2006 2:44 AM

Your point about insurance is an interesting one! We recently had an 'e' mail from head office stating that all company cars no longer have fully comprehensive cover and that anybody who has an accident that is deemed their fault has to carry the cost (or at least the subsidiary they are employed by), as they are deemed 'competent to drive' as they have a licence!

Whoops!

This is now under discussion, and further training such as the IAM has been mooted.

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#2

Re: Work Place Competence

11/16/2006 12:08 AM

Some of our Democrats must have moved to the UK.

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#3

Re: Work Place Competence

11/16/2006 12:22 AM

The hero made some good points regarding excess safety rules. treating workers like kids, and the safety blame factor. Let us consider the old days prior to safety excesses. You make the choice but there are some good points to be made in favor of charging the business for training and insuring the business person. Agreed that government should only be the referee and not the financier. The employer, like a safety concerned family unit, should benefit from improved health and safety of the worker. If the worker is injured, on or off the job, the employer and fellow workers suffer. Shouldn't the employer shoulder the risk with adequate training & insurance.

Hazardly rushing to work to arrive on time without getting a tardy dock in spite of traffic variations. Haste to make production in attempt to make bonus or promotion. Lack of auto, accident and/or health insurance (50% of some state's traffic has no auto insurance) because of low wages. Driving hazardous high maintenance autos because that's the way they are built for profit/loss by quarterly minded management these days.

The company of employment and company rules contributed to each of the above scenarios. Should it matter whether the unsafe action occurred prior to, during, or after arrival at the work place. The action was reaction to work related policy which could have easily be abated by revising work rules - Implement Flex work hours rather than fixed time based mandates. Value added pay scales and raises. Auto, health, accident, health club membership, life insurance paid by the employerer to keep workers at work rather than on sick leave. Meaningful and relative worker safety training, driver training, routine auto maintenance training, skid instruction rather than some repetitive boring computer based after-hours multiple question quiz project.

European drivers license are scaled and routinely updated to match highways, age, and driving conditions. US drivers pass a once-in-a-lifetime written test, at best. European autos are constructed to survive the autoban after 500,000 miles. US autos are falling apart on the test drive home while GM & Ford request government financing to float their deteriorating sinking boat.

Should the government encourage employers to shoulder the risk and responsibility for the health and safety of the employees? Why should government and employers expect each employee to know what type coverage and risk is of most value? Isn't the employerer more qualified to take the risk and make the investment? If not, who will?

That raises an interesting question. Who, then is responsible to insure the unemployed? Who pays for the highly paid worker's Porsche hit by a hot-dog flipping worker driving a Ford? Should employers have uninsured motorist insurance to cover each employee?

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#7
In reply to #3

Re: Work Place Competence

11/16/2006 11:21 AM

My 911 was not hit by a hot dog, but I did get hit by a hamburger. I don't recall what kind of car the offender was driving.

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#5

Re: Work Place Competence

11/16/2006 8:22 AM

The crack about Democrats is on target.

1. A company vehicle is allways insured by the company

2. A wreck while going to work is a statistic not an employer responsibility

3. A wreck in a company vehicle requires drug and alchohol test

4. A company safety review panel decides if this reson retains a company vehicle

5. The Police will cite the responsible party(s)

6. The loss of a license is the loss of the car (duh)

7. The company may never deem the person fit or not to drive to work in a personal vehicle

What other personal problems will the company take on for you.

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Anonymous Poster
#6

Re: Work Place Competence

11/16/2006 11:03 AM

In our company we no longer hire employees, because they are irresponsible and do not share our risks, we do business only with free lancer professionals as we are, I mean that for them we are a client, and they have no obligations to work only for us, they are like other companies, and we are by no means responsible of their private life, and even more, each one of them negotiates their contract independently the same way we negotiate with our clients, that are much bigger than us. And this is the tendency of economy here in Chile, so if one of our subcontractors has an accident, God save them, and if we have an accident, God save us. We have to drive carefully, that is the best insurance.

Jaime Soto Figueroa

Electronic Engineer

Santiago, Chile

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#8

Re: Work Place Competence

11/16/2006 6:56 PM

I read a story quite a while ago, it may have been called "Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut. In it, humans living in a domicile (cell, prison) were "taken care" of by machines. The machines were programmed to eliminate any possible hazard to their charges. If the blood pressure went up, heart attack was possible. Likewise for running (they could fall), sex (distracting) , thinking (leads to more problems), working or otherwise creating anything new. In short, anything that caused the poor subject to become excited, aroused or anxious was forbidden and the machines had the means at hand to quell any such outburst. The story ended with the unit very quiet, the inmates catatonic. The Europe and the UK seems to have a penchant for wacky ideas. They seem to think that they can protect themselves from all hazards and thus prevent the worst hazard of all, death. . Sorry, it's not going to happen.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Work Place Competence

11/17/2006 12:15 AM

Yes this was what Pete Townshend's unfinished "Lifehouse" project was all about. Nobody close to him could understand at the time (about 1971) but it's pretty obvious now.

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#10

Re: Work Place Competence

11/17/2006 10:21 AM

One of our subcontractors is an independent professional that has many clients, as we are, he routes multilayer boards for our special designs, and he had an accident, precisely inside his car, but it was not a crash, just a contamination of his skin due to vapours produced by a chemical substance he was transporting in his car. Even when we have no responsibility for that, we voluntarily choose to help him with a natural compound to restore the skin pH. Good human relationships beyond law obligations are much better.

Jaime Soto Figueroa

http://www.matharts.cl/

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Anonymous Poster
#11

Re: Work Place Competence

12/17/2006 1:56 AM

It all cepends on whether the offender punches a time card or is salaried I am sure.

As a salaried hire is essewntially on th eclock all the time.

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Anonymous Hero (2); Anonymous Poster (4); Belius (1); Cornstoves (1); Emjay4119 (1); PlbMak (1); Sixsigmaengineer (1)

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