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Dave Wolfendne  
#1 Posted : 01 July 2019 17:07:54(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Dave Wolfendne

I would welcome your thoughts on an issue that has just arisen.

Last week one of our company drivers had an incident at a construction site.  The site staff talked with him for over an hour post incident on the day.

Both the project manager and their major contractors H&S team are requiring that we send our driver back to them to be interviewed as part of their investigation.

We offered to interview the driver ourselves and forward the lorrys CCTV recording of the incident along with the statement we take from our driver.

This isn't sufficient for them, they are demanding our driver attends tomorrow with the threat that if he doesn't we will be putting our long-term contract at risk.

The contract is too much to risk losing so i am having to send the driver, with two managers for support, to the site tomorrow to answer another set of questions concerning the incident.

What is everyone's view on this?  I am very uncomfortable with our employee being the subject of another company's investigation, especially as it was an incident.  I appreciate that in other circumstances it might possibly have been a significant accident (very low speed, just moving off).

What is everyone's view on the a major building company using threats of contract cancellation to get their own way?

  

RayRapp  
#2 Posted : 01 July 2019 17:55:50(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
RayRapp

It does depend to some degree on the seriousness of the incident. Notwithstanding that, I don't think it is unreasonable request, especially if a thorough incident investigation is to take place. That said, I am surprised any issues were not dealt with and facts taken during the driver's first interview.

Threatening to remove you from their contract services does seem a bit extreme. Clearly someone thinks the incident is serious enough to warrant such aaction. Most organisations would comply rather than loose the business - the construction industry is full of bullies. 

Hopefully someone will disagree with me and we can have a meaningful discussion - Lol. 

Roundtuit  
#3 Posted : 01 July 2019 19:26:35(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

My driver does not wish to provide any further information. They are obliged to assist their employer under H&S law but no third party. Even if I insist they spend all the rest of their employment shifts at your site they are not obliged to provide you with any further information. IF you suspect this is such a serious situation have the constabulary or HSE involved to investigate BUT do not presume to intimidate others so that YOUR failings my be hushed up or swept under the carpet. SORRY but this is my interpretation of the OP - there is crap to dish out and someone is looking to pass the buck - probably some naive. Better still (and more for their reference) ensure you keep documentary records - then you can sue for breach of contract, get paid and not have to provide labour or materials.
stevedm  
#4 Posted : 02 July 2019 07:42:21(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

As someone who does request this of contractors and suppliers alike, not all of us have an agenda...merely a desire to get to the root cause of the incident so that it can be prevented...

Also we have ensured that this and other safety requirements are written into all supply contracts.

jmaclaughlin  
#5 Posted : 02 July 2019 08:10:59(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
jmaclaughlin

Assuming that you are a supplier or sub-contractor then your driver would likely have attended and signed a site induction which among other things may have stated that you will comply with any investigations.

Given that this is business critical to you company and simultaneously you want to support your driver would recommend that you attend with a manager and a legal rep as opposed to two managers.

Your manager should insure the interview is kept formal, factual, non-confrontational and above all recorded with each company retaining a signed copy of the recording.

A legal rep shouldn’t cost that much for one day’s work and they will protect both your business and your driver and in my experience inhibit any temptation towards corporate bullying.

Hope it works out for you.

Alfasev  
#6 Posted : 02 July 2019 09:55:11(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Alfasev

A major issue for Principal Contractors is that they are a main duty holder under the CDM regulations and any breach on site could result in a substantial fine for them, regardless who the people involved actually work for and even if the supplier or subcontractor is at fault. There doesn’t even have to be an injury, just the likelihood of one.

A full investigation can go some way to mitigate any fine, hence the zeal. Although it appears the HSE are not involved this time, there is always a risk they could become involved or involved in a similar incident.

Be aware they may demand some sort of action be taken against your driver. Go in prepared with an offer of some refresher training. The bully boys amongst them may demand disciplinary action!

hilary  
#7 Posted : 02 July 2019 11:19:56(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
hilary

I think it is a wholly reasonable request to be honest.  Perhaps that's just me .....

Having conducted investigations myself, I know that straight after an incident you do not and cannot know all the facts.  You do the best you can to interview people, get witness statements and piece together the information but you still need to revisit later, especially if Bob said this and Joe said that.  If people are trying to protect themselves and push the blame on to someone else, say, your driver, then surely you would want him to be re-interviewed to clear his name.

thanks 2 users thanked hilary for this useful post.
RayRapp on 02/07/2019(UTC), Dazzling Puddock on 18/09/2019(UTC)
AcornsConsult  
#8 Posted : 02 July 2019 12:08:54(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
AcornsConsult

Speak to your insurer/legal advisors first - they may weant to attend or offer advise on how far you can go in terms of discussing a case that may cause you/them issues at a later date.  Consider the disruption - are you 10 or 300 miles away.  Not inclinded to be disruptive obstructive but cautious.   The 3rd party has made their provisional investigation, so this should be a mop up of issues.  Can they send an agenda of topics to be covered - if they can't or won't then eiother they don't know what they are going to ask (wastes your time) or they have an ulterior motive to hijack your driver.   No doubt they will want to discuss documents, if they do not relate directly to the driver then pass on discussing them - its outside his remit at this stage.   Do not confuse a driver interview with you / your managers discussing the incident with the 3rd party.  Keep them as very distinct and separate meetings. By all means, attend but set the scene and conditions.  Consider either a prepared statement signed by driver.  Rather than driver signing a statement, allow 3rd party to make copious notes of their Q+As with the condition that everyone gets a copy of the master 'offical' notes but no need for driver to provide a written statement.  Afterall, a written statement could be done at their home depot and emailled over rather than face to face.   I've acted for the 3rd party scenario and as it would be us wanting to speak to the driver, then it is encumbent on me/ us travelling to see you. Underlying threats do not help and I'd be inclined to deal with that right at the start of the meeting.  Even include it in the pre-amble of the official notes.      

thanks 2 users thanked AcornsConsult for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 03/07/2019(UTC), SJP on 09/07/2019(UTC)
RayRapp  
#9 Posted : 03 July 2019 08:43:03(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
RayRapp

An ecletic collection of thoughts, opinions and examples - many I could not agree with.

When I completed an IOSH recognised Accident/Loss Investigation and Evidence Gathering 4-day course some years back the notion of interviewing anyone involved in an incident was positively encouraged in order to achieve a full and impartial investigation. Always a bit tricky when the client's personnel is involved.

During my career I have completed or attended many incident investigations. One that springs to mind is where a main contractor subbed some work out to another contractor - we were the psuedo client. A piece of equipment was left erroneously on a running rail after maintenance work was completed. It could have caused a serious train derailment. We were not satisfied with the main contractor's investigation report, which inter alia failed to include any witness statements including the track supervisor. So we requested the sub-contractor's personnel to atend a formal investigation to properly ascertain the cause of the incident. Seems quite reasonable to me and anything less would have been a derelliction of duty I believe.  

ps why cannot I find the spill chucker!!         

thanks 2 users thanked RayRapp for this useful post.
hilary on 03/07/2019(UTC), westonphil on 03/07/2019(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#10 Posted : 03 July 2019 08:54:55(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

As people have said in theory talking to another employer’s staff to further your own investigations is perfectly acceptable BUT be careful as there might be a temptation for the other company to try to dump the liability onto  you and your driver. You need to support your guy and not just to throw him to the wolves.  As the Acorns person said find out what they want to ask and get all your ducks in row before the meeting. Make it clear that this is not a witch hunt but a joint investigation to establish the truth.

Hsquared14  
#11 Posted : 03 July 2019 12:31:18(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Hsquared14

I think it is pretty much a reasonable request but you should have a management representative present at the interview to see that fair play is maintained and that the interview is conducted in a proper and orderly manner.  Make sure you get a copy of all the investigation material and of the interview which should be reported on in full.

thanks 1 user thanked Hsquared14 for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 03/07/2019(UTC)
Adams29600  
#12 Posted : 08 July 2019 11:29:37(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Adams29600

Not too many years ago, I worked for a major chemical manufacturer in the North East.

A major policy they had was that any major accident or breach of any "Life Saving Rule" by a contractor would result in the perpetrator and their Senior Manager being summonsed to attend the enquiry/investigation with a clear understanding that failure to do so was breach of contract and likely to jeopordise future work.

I agreed with some aspects of this approach, but not others.

However, if contractors wanted to work for us, they cooperated.

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