One of the key things people learn on their first safety courses are key phrases used in health and safety. We, like all professions, are awash with different phrases and acronyms and one of those is ITIS (as in healthandsafetyitis – a condition which can affect us all as some point on another).
However, the phrases behind this is important; Information, Training, Instruction, Supervision. We are told in the classroom that no matter what, we never loose that responsibility to keep pushing the safety and health messages out to our staff. But, the law often sees things in a different and generally quite stark light where things are either OK or not, adequate or simply inadequate.
The case below can therefore be helpful to shed a little more of this light on what a judge might think is appropriate, our only caveat is that this is one case and represents a specific set of circumstances.
A case has recently been heard by the Court of Appeal involving Dean Quantrell and TWA Logistics Ltd. Quantrell was operating a gas powered lift truck to unload vehicles but somehow managed to end up underneath the truck and sustained leg injuries, exactly how this happened is unclear.
Quantrell asserted that he was travelling at low speed when his left foot slipped from the pedal causing him to overbalance and fall. However, the judge at the first hearing in Liverpool was seemingly unconvinced by Quantrells version of events and noted that he had been inconsistent in his story during questioning. In addition, a reconstruction showed the events described to be all but impossible when moving at slow speeds.
The judge concluded that it was more likely that the accident occurred due to a sharp turn at high speed which caused it to tip and the case was dismissed.
The case was taken to the Court of Appeal where Quantrell argued that the accident had happened at low speed and confirmed story he had recounted was broadly correct. He alleged that there were several areas in which TWA Logistics had failed including inadequate training as it had not included specific instruction in driving gas-powered FLTs or familiarisation training at the workplace as required by the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) for lift trucks. He also felt that insufficient weight had been placed on the lack of enforcement over wearing a seat belt.
The court of appeal disagreed with both arguments and then dismissed Quantrells claim. It found that although the training was not fully compliant with HSE ACoP it had covered the “basic” element just not the required “specific” and “familiarisation” parts. HThe Court felt that there was no link between the accident and any inadequacy of training. The question of seat belt usage was also found to have been given sufficient consideration by the business and although enforcement was not rigorous, it had been reasonable. Evidence being the business supplying buzzers to alert drivers when the seat belt was not used and notices being displayed to remind drivers to use seat belts.
So an interesting conclusion and one which will serve to give some assurance to safety managers and directors alike. Our advice? Make sure you keep records of any reminders, toolbox talks or disciplinary action take relating to safety, it great evidence when you need it.