Welcome Guest! The IOSH forums are a free resource to both members and non-members. Login or register to use them

Postings made by forum users are personal opinions. IOSH is not responsible for the content or accuracy of any of the information contained in forum postings. Please carefully consider any advice you receive.

Notification

Icon
Error

Options
Go to last post Go to first unread
thunderchild  
#1 Posted : 10 October 2017 10:12:17(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

Morning chaps and chapesses!

Here's one for you. I have 2 tasks that the business wants to undertake that I know we should not be doing. 1 of them the HSE in its guidance says not to and one we do not have the competency to under take.

I have given my advice that we dont do either but I have been overruled / ignored due to cost so, can I actually tell the business that as they have gone against their "competent advice" that I canot wite RAMS to do a task safely that I know and have evidenced that we should not be doing?????

Any advice?

RayRapp  
#2 Posted : 10 October 2017 10:20:22(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
RayRapp

Hi, you do not fully explain the context of writing RAMS within your organisation, but reading between the lines I would say safety people should not be writing RAMS because of the potential lack of knowledge and also the conflict with impartiality i.e. who will check and sign off the RAMS?

I was onced asked to 'help out' engineers in writing RAMS on a project. I refused of course, stating much the same as above, plus I had better things to do than sit there all day writing RAMS!

thunderchild  
#3 Posted : 10 October 2017 10:23:28(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

I have to write the RAMS as there is no-one else to do it. If I wern't to write them then tasks would be completed without them as the opertaives would just get on and do it the easiest and quickest way possible.....oh and the cheapest.

georgiaredmayne  
#4 Posted : 10 October 2017 13:50:09(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
georgiaredmayne

Hi,

If the HSE advise against it and you know in your mind that you are not competent - do not write the RAMS have written confirmation of your decision and your advice to individuals to not carry out works, reference the HSE guidance for each topic and then perhaps refer back to some case law as to what teh consequences could potentially be. This may change their mind.

Perhaps they require some re-eductaion on H&S and in particularlly the sentencing guidelines, they may not understand their responsibilities and duties - perhaps a culture change is required?!

DavidGault  
#5 Posted : 10 October 2017 13:56:17(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
DavidGault

You can write the RAMS but have a protective measure of ensuring that the competence for the task is in place before it goes ahead.  In other words pile on the corrective acions that are required (whether it is training that will help with competency, equipment etc)  before you even begin the method statement.  One thing you must not do is write RAMS as though everything is ok and then let it go ahead.  

thunderchild  
#6 Posted : 10 October 2017 13:57:26(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

Oh they are fully aware. I have advised in writing that we should not be undertaking either task siting references but I know down to basic costs I will be ignored.

I have stated that it will be a custodial sentance but it will not make an ounce of difference.

achrn  
#7 Posted : 10 October 2017 15:17:34(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
achrn

Could you start the RAMS with "1: Ensure operatives are competent and have priort experience of the task ..." ?

(Actually, I agree, better to just refuse to write the document.)

lorna  
#8 Posted : 11 October 2017 12:20:25(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
lorna

Originally Posted by: thunderchild Go to Quoted Post

Oh they are fully aware. I have advised in writing that we should not be undertaking either task siting references but I know down to basic costs I will be ignored.

I have stated that it will be a custodial sentance but it will not make an ounce of difference.

Don't write the RAMS!! You have given your advice and they have ignored it so if they go ahead, they are compounding the error/offence. If you 'give in' & write the RAMS, you could be seen as complicit. & I bet thay're ignored too. If you want to give some info or advice to the people doing the task, just call it that.

Cheeky Me  
#9 Posted : 11 October 2017 13:06:01(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Cheeky Me

I have the same issues as you do Thunderchild and although the advice already given in this thread is correct...... it’s easier said than done. Writing the RAMS is not a good move and you could be putting yourself in the firing line. However, to refuse "point blank" is also not a good move and you could still be putting yourself in the firing line. (or the dole queue line) Its a crap deal and one that no employee should be faced with but it happens more than people realise. I tend to refer to the "reasonably practicable" balance, as in the chances of something going wrong due to the RAMS I’ve created not being suitable and sufficient, against the consequences of becoming unemployed and possibly homeless. So very wrong....but sadly (and shamefully) very true.

thanks 1 user thanked Cheeky Me for this useful post.
DavidGault on 12/10/2017(UTC)
Oxford  
#10 Posted : 11 October 2017 13:26:22(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Oxford

What's in your job description - does it include reference to the production of RAMS?

A compromise, if this is in your JD, could be to produce some basic RAMS but not sign them; give them to the operstional managers, who should be doing the RAMS anyway, to authorise and sign.

Remember that in H&S there is a distinction between responsibility and authority - only the MD (or whatever) of your organisation has any responsibility - the people further down the management structure only have delegated authority to manage H&S. You should not exceed the limits of your authority.

David Bannister  
#11 Posted : 11 October 2017 13:52:46(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
David Bannister

Originally Posted by: Oxford Go to Quoted Post

only the MD (or whatever) of your organisation has any responsibility 

This is not strictly true - all employees have responsibility for their own actions. Thus a H&S Manager knowingly making incorrect decisions must be responsible and therefore accountable, just as an employee wilfully tampering with a safety feature is accountable or the MD instructing or condoning unsafe systems and practices.

That said, a risk assessment can still be completed, drawing the appropriate conclusions and specifying additional risk controls as necessary. It is then up to the responsible manager to either accept the need for the additional controls and implement them or ignore the findings - on their own responsibility and accountability!

Hazzard41579  
#12 Posted : 11 October 2017 15:10:02(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Hazzard41579

I would suggest you write the RAMS stating the Hazard, the controls you can actually put in place and score residual risk accordingly which should remain high. This should strengthen your argument that its too unsafe to proceed.

thunderchild  
#13 Posted : 12 October 2017 06:14:56(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

Thanks for all the suggestions. Its defo a difficult one.

brianw88  
#14 Posted : 12 October 2017 06:57:13(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
brianw88

This is not difficult at all, you are all forgetting one vital component here, the employee you have stated "the company will do it it anyway" write the RAMS get assistance from the guys who are doing the job and the managers. When you publish the final daft make sure you email all concerned and state your objections then.

thanks 1 user thanked brianw88 for this useful post.
WatsonD on 13/10/2017(UTC)
Shopland23872  
#15 Posted : 13 October 2017 08:20:15(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Shopland23872

It would appear that your employer is attempting to vicariously involve you in something which is in breach of regulations to cut costs (we have all experienced this scenario at some point). As you stated this could potentially result in a spell at Her Majestys pleasure. You should seriously consider taking this direct to the HSE. You are protected from retribution by your employer by The Whistle Blowing Act, which specifically states that you are covered if you report "someone's health and safety is in danger". Also failure to report this to the HSE would probably incriminate you in the event of an accident.

chris42  
#16 Posted : 13 October 2017 09:07:39(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
chris42

Originally Posted by: Shopland23872 Go to Quoted Post

It would appear that your employer is attempting to vicariously involve you in something which is in breach of regulations to cut costs (we have all experienced this scenario at some point). As you stated this could potentially result in a spell at Her Majestys pleasure. You should seriously consider taking this direct to the HSE. You are protected from retribution by your employer by The Whistle Blowing Act, which specifically states that you are covered if you report "someone's health and safety is in danger". Also failure to report this to the HSE would probably incriminate you in the event of an accident.

I was wondering if someone was going to mention this. Regardless of if you do or do not write the rams and or write them correctly highlighting the continued high risk. The other decision you have to make is what do you do when they go ahead and do whatever it is. Do you turn a blind eye or do you report them to the HSE (and wait for them to find a different excuse to get rid of you at a later date!). If you do not report, could your conscious handle knowing you knew the danger and didn’t stop the person being seriously hurt.

Yes, there is supposed to be protection from whistle blowing, but none of us are that stupid to think it would actually work. Employers would just find a different excuse to fire you or increase your workload until you buckle.

Not an easy thing, to decide, but you know the correct thing to do, you would not be on here otherwise asking this question.

There is a thread available to Members from Andrew Sharman regarding IOSH being progressive and how can it help its members. Perhaps this is one for them to offer a whistle blowing service for its members, so there is no direct line to the employee. Our jobs should not have this element of stress, it does, but shouldn’t. Just a thought. (I will direct Andrew to this thread) 

These threads come up from time to time and I guess a lot of us have been or indeed are in similar positions. The general advice is to get out, but the companies don’t learn from this and the next person has the same problem. They keep risking their employees for a small profit. If the work can’t be done for the price then no one should be able to do it for the price.

I would write the RAM’s correctly stating the correct controls (make sure it is read only if electronic). Then advise company if they go ahead and do the wrong thing I will report them. If they sack me I will still report them including the fact I had been fired for trying to do the correct thing.

Are other companies (your competitors) doing what they should not? dob one or two of them in? Also, are you working for a client, could they be got on side (or threatened to be told if sacked)

Be VERY sure you are correct!!!!!

Chris

thanks 1 user thanked chris42 for this useful post.
andrewcl on 13/10/2017(UTC)
thunderchild  
#17 Posted : 13 October 2017 09:45:54(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

Chris & Shopland,

Yes this thought has crossed my mind and yes I do know that it would cost me my job but ot would be the right thing to do. Something I am not scared to do.

I am trying to get tis done the correct and proper way. If I'm honest I will have walked before I have to write the RAMS anyway. I am not happy and we're at work to long for us to be unhappy in the job. I want to keep people safe not bend the rules to cut corners to save costs. I love what I do but at the moment I feel that is wrong.

Thanks for all the words. Sometimes I feel I'm in a ship on my own but coming here i feel that maybe i'm not on my own and you've all been through this too.

Have a good day.

RayRapp  
#18 Posted : 13 October 2017 09:48:13(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
RayRapp

I learnt a long time ago the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (Whistleblowing) is fraught with complications for the employee and moreover, if not followed to the letter offers very poor protection. Hence it should only be used as a last resort - a bit like Constructive Dismissal - you only get one shot at it.

It's easy to sit here is on our computers giving advice but how many would really put their job on the line for a matter of principle or legality?

thunderchild  
#19 Posted : 13 October 2017 09:51:30(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

I would. I feel that this is serious enough to warrant it.

thanks 2 users thanked thunderchild for this useful post.
andrewcl on 13/10/2017(UTC), lorna on 16/10/2017(UTC)
Oxford  
#20 Posted : 13 October 2017 11:18:41(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Oxford

Originally Posted by: David Bannister Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Oxford Go to Quoted Post

only the MD (or whatever) of your organisation has any responsibility 

 all employees have responsibility for their own actions.

I would use the term "duty" which is what it's called in S7 of HASAW:

"It shall be the duty of every employee while at work"

gpevans  
#21 Posted : 16 October 2017 14:59:43(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
gpevans

No one can force you to do anything. Personally, my take is you have offered advice and outlined in writing why this should not be done. Is this really a company you want to be working with? I have left businesses in the past which made me feel uncomfortable. As crude as its sounds the best advice I have had is 'don't work with A***holes. No job is worth prison time or the having an event lie on your conscious around a failing in safety that you are aware of. Especially with the new sentencing guidelines which could come into play very soon

thanks 1 user thanked gpevans for this useful post.
lorna on 17/10/2017(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#22 Posted : 16 October 2017 15:51:27(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

One of the differences between the way H&S is dealt with in the UK and in other countries is the recognition by the HSE that the H&S professional is (usually) just an adviser and should not be treated as a whipping boy for management acts and omissions.  I remember a presentation by a HSE inspector who explained after being called into investigate a fatal accident, he first visited the H&S adviser where, as he expect all, of the RAMS were in place. He only spent 20 minutes taking to the guy. He then tracked down the operations manager and spent two days grilling him because he knew where the power and responsibility lay.

chris42  
#23 Posted : 17 October 2017 08:38:42(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
chris42

Originally Posted by: RayRapp Go to Quoted Post

It's easy to sit here is on our computers giving advice but how many would really put their job on the line for a matter of principle or legality?

It is a debate I have had with myself many times. I have wondered about this since I was shown a video of the H&S person from the firm American Carbide, where the Bhopal disaster took place. They quit their job 3 months before the incident due to management not taking H&S seriously. I would hope I would do the same.

I think it depends on what legislation is being broken. I doubt if many would quit their job because the company refused to buy the receptionist a good chair for their workstation. However, something where serious harm is more than likely I would hope so. Having said that, if you walk into a new job you can’t expect everything to be already in place or even management to be immediately receptive. We all know it can be a long process to bring them around, and one which you could ultimately fail with, so a need to constantly review the situation. I have come very close to quitting my job on many an occasion, but have also been out of work once for 3 years (hated every minute of it). I think providing I can keep moving things forward it is just about worth hanging on, but you have to believe you will eventually get there (or mostly there).

Some organisations will do the wrong thing if you are there or not. It may be for all the correct reasons, ie they are trying to keep the company afloat and everyone in employment. I’m not saying that is right, just you can understand the pressure they may e under. As H&S advisors we have to be very careful about going overboard with our advice and that can be tricky sometimes. If we get them to put all the bells and whistles in place, that could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sometime good enough it the correct option.

Only the OP knows the heinousness of the plan or how complicit to any outcome they would deemed to be, should all go wrong. The famous picture of all the men eating their lunch sat on a girder on a partly built skyscraper, what you don’t see is the guy that was there a few weeks previous who fell off. But they didn’t fall every time they went up! So, it is all about risk the company’s risk and your own personal risk and how much you want to expose yourself to. 

Let us know how it goes.

thunderchild  
#24 Posted : 17 October 2017 14:57:40(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

I'm struggling, I'm unhappy and I'm going backwards.

I appreciate that not everything will be in place but when the basics are not done and you get arguments and battles at every turn.............

Users browsing this topic
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.