A distribution company has been fined after inadequate Health & Safety training led to a worker being seriously injured on his first day of work.
The court heard that the agency worker was given a “brief” induction at the firm’s depot before starting work the same day as a multi-drop delivery driver.
The worker delivered his first drop successfully but was unable to deliver a second drop of 12 beer kegs as the given address was incorrect. On his next delivery, the worker used a pallet truck to move the beer and access the next lorry load on his list. However, he fell backwards from a raised tail lift onto the road, with several beer kegs falling on top of him.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the worker:
- Had no previous experience in using the pallet truck or tail lift;
- Was not made aware of safe working practices for operating a pallet truck on a tail lift; and
- Was not given any practical training in using the machinery safely.
Investigators also found that the distribution firm had failed in its duty to carry out checks on the worker’s competence and previous experience.
H & M Distribution Limited pleaded guilty to breaking the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
It was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,200.
The HSE said: “Employers who use agency workers or contractors have a responsibility to firstly establish the workers’ competence, taking into account their level of experience and familiarity with the work and work equipment, and then provide the appropriate level of training to ensure the work is done safely”.
It added: “If appropriate training had been provided, the life-changing injuries sustained by the agency worker could have been prevented”.
The Importance of proper Induction training
This case highlights the importance of providing adequate health and safety induction training.
Induction training is a legal requirement under health and safety legislation. Inductions are also a vital part of a safety management system – everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risk to their health. Training needs to be constantly reviewed and updated.
Workers must be given adequate instruction, information and training – in a clear way that allows them to understand things properly. A proportionate approach should be taken. For example a low-risk business will not need lengthy technical training providing simple information or instruction is likely to be enough.
However, some employees will have particular training needs. For example, young or inexperienced employees are particularly likely to suffer accidents and ill health from work-related activity. You therefore need to pay particular attention to their induction.
Typically, an effective health and safety induction programme should include:
- Your Health & Safety Policy – talk through it and make sure inductees understand they have a role in driving down incidents and accidents.
- The name of your organisation’s Health & Safety adviser.
- Your accident reporting procedures – workers need to know how to report near misses and dangerous occurrences.
- Your organisation’s fire, evacuation and first aid arrangements.
- The location of welfare facilities and any prohibited areas.
- Any particular hazards and risks that workers face – as revealed in the workplace risk assessment that must be carried out.
If you are working in the retail sector, our 10 steps of an effective induction acts as a useful guide to the key components employers should cover when inducting new starters.
Is your induction adequate?
Many workplace inductions do not satisfy health and safety requirements because they do not have a strong enough focus on health and safety issues. For example, many inductions introduce workers to an organisation’s policies, procedures, culture and people but not to its safe operating procedures.
Job-specific training will be necessary to make sure workers follow a safe system of work when carrying out a particular task.
Handy Induction List
The following is an additional list of 9 things to cover in your induction:
- Review workers’ job descriptions and expectations for the role.
- Explain how workers fit into your organisation’s operation.
- Show new starters the physical layout of the workplace through a thorough tour of premises.
- Provide workers with an orientation of their local work area.
- Go through your workplace policies and procedures, especially your Health & Safety policy, Code of Conduct and emergency procedures.
- Go through the site rules, such as smoking, breaks and behaviour.
- Detail the safe work practices relevant to a worker’s role.
- Explain how to access health and safety information.
- If a worker’s role involves the use of machinery, make sure that they are properly trained, know how to operate equipment, understand any associated risks, and have appropriate safety equipment.
Consider ‘buddying’ new starters with established staff who can show them how to perform certain work-related tasks.
Regular catch-up meetings in the early stages of employment may also help address any problems before they become a major issue.