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marshi  
#1 Posted : 09 January 2018 11:02:29(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
marshi

I would like to pick the brains of the educated and experienced collective. I am a Parish Councillor on a voluntary basis but my job role in the real world is H&S Advisor for Local Govt. I am about to embark on bringing the Parish Council's employees (2 office based staff and 2 grounds maintenance staff) into the 21st Century H&S wise via a program of toolbox talks, training, DSE assessments etc ona strictly voluntary basis.

My question is does this create any vulnerability for me in the aspect of accountability or personal liability? So far there has been absolutely nothing done historically with these staff members so no records or evidence exists that they have ever been trained, competence checked or risk controlled in any manner. I am aware that, even though the Parish Councillors are all voluntary the Counci is still an employer in legal terms so the obligation under HASAWA would obvoiusly exist along with all other aspects of employing people.

For clairty  I do not have any personal or professional liability insruance in this aspect as I have never worked outside of my employed role, I simply want to do the right thing by these people and try to look after them on a more formal and structured basis and bring my skills and experience to assist my community. All thoughts, advice or comments gratefully received.

kmason83  
#2 Posted : 09 January 2018 11:31:32(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
kmason83

Hi Marshi

There shouldn't be any issue in terms of liability purely as you are not taking payment for this advice. But your role is in local government you say so is this as in the local authority in which that Parish is situated? What I would flag up is if the council is actually liable for the advice your provide as you in your proffessional capacity are providing helath and safety advice as part of the course of your work so in a court of law at the enth degree if anything went that far it would be difficult to prove that you were acting in the course of your own devices ie outside the course of your duties under the terms of your employment and this is simply because if the parish resides in the authority you work for then there is a duty to ensure complaince by that local aurthority......if that makes sense. 

David Bannister  
#3 Posted : 09 January 2018 12:27:15(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
David Bannister

Hi Marshi, you would be giving advice on health and safety issues, preparing paperwork, advising or carrying out risk assessments, delivering training i.e assuming a competent person role.

You (as we all are) are accountable for what you do, fail to do or do incorrectly. You may therefore be sued and if found legally liable for any errors or omissions, subject to whatever sanctions a civil court may determine.

In practice, it is extremely unlikely but not impossible. However, if you got it so wrong that fatalities occurred and you had failed to identify the obvious exposures and specify appropriate controls, HSE/LA may take a closer interest.

Many H&S professional provide voluntary services to a range of organisations such as you describe and you would be hard pressed to find one who has been subject to legal sanctions. This is a question that has previously featured on these forums so a search may reveal more answers.

PH2  
#4 Posted : 09 January 2018 15:01:08(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
PH2

HSE publish a free book "Charity and Voluntary Workers". It is 156 pages long, so it is comprehensive. I would recommend a download. if you are to continue in your voluntary role. It makes clear what insurances the "employer" of volunteer workers should have as a minimum. Don't assume that because it is a relatively low risk environment that you and / or the Parish Council will never end up in court (hopefully never, but there are a lot of claims conscious people out there).
andybz  
#5 Posted : 09 January 2018 15:41:50(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
andybz

Marshi

My understanding is that you are a volunteer but you would be training paid employees of the Parish Council.  That being the case, I think there is a little bit more for you to think about.

Clearly the employees should have received H&S training, so their employer (Parish Council) has been deficient (dare I say negligent).  It is great that you want to address this but I think you do need to do it correctly via the employer.  I would suggest you first point out the deficiencies and give your proposal for addressing them.  But you should only work on instructions from the employer, so that they take responsibility.  I feel that if you just provided the training without formal approval it would be too easy for the Parish Council to say that you were fully responsible if something did go wrong.

If you were only training other volunteers I would not have such a great concern.

RayRapp  
#6 Posted : 09 January 2018 17:55:38(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
RayRapp

Interesting perspectives here in terms of responsibility and liability. I tend to take a more relaxed view when it comes to a person providing advice and assistance for no benefit assuming it's within their shpere of knowledge. Indeed, I don't see any real issues because the employees are much better off receiving some training in H&S rather than nothing at all - any court in the land could see that. Any liability will fall to the Parish Council in my opinion. 

thanks 1 user thanked RayRapp for this useful post.
jwk on 11/01/2018(UTC)
marshi  
#7 Posted : 10 January 2018 10:39:55(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
marshi

Thank you all for your helpful and enlightened comments. To help clarify things and answer some queries, I am a Parish Councillor in my local village and not within the Authority I work for so no issues there. I will be advising and supporting the line manager of these staff members who is the Parish Clerk, and only delivering more formal training sessions in subjects that I am qualified to instruct on. The toolbox talks will be delivered by the line manager responsible and I will advise, guide and support her on how best to achieve this. The risk assessment for the Council is already in place and I wil be advising her on the review but the line manager retains full responsibility in that regard and is supported by the wider Govt agencies that all Parishes have access to. I only intend to bring my skills and experience to support and advise the Clerk in her obligations under H&S and to help the staff have a better and safer workplace and more controled activities. 

Edited by user 10 January 2018 10:41:52(UTC)  | Reason: spelling error

andybz  
#8 Posted : 10 January 2018 10:43:58(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
andybz

Thanks for the extra information.  It answers all the concernes I raised, so I am now with Ray on being failing relaxed about the proposition.

Daisy1  
#9 Posted : 10 January 2018 10:48:26(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Daisy1

Just a quick reply to #4 the HSE publication " HSG192 Charity and Voluntary workers" is no longer available. It was withdrawn quite a few years ago, but may be available via subscription services such as Barbour or other websites. The original poster may be interested in the IOSH Code of Conduct  Part 2 Section 4.2 which deals with Professional Indemnity Insurance.

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