Upon becoming an academy school, governing owner-operators take on legal responsibility for the Health & Safety of staff and students as well as other Environmental and Business requirements.
If you govern an academy or are thinking of doing so, you may not realise just how serious this legal responsibility is. By law, Governors must appoint someone to help them with health and safety matters. This person must be “competent” which means they must have the necessary skills, knowledge, qualification and experience to give sensible advice about managing a school’s risks and keeping up with the law.
However, appointing a “Competent Person” will not discharge Governors of responsibility. If the law is broken, as the owner-operators Governors will be the prime-target for proceedings by the police, HSE or claimants. Here are some examples of recent incidents:
School and glass contractor fined for asbestos failings
A Birmingham academy and a glass company have been fined for failing to properly manage refurbishment works and exposing workers to asbestos.
School fined, teacher knocked unconscious after fall
A girls’ school has been fined for breaching work at height regulations after a teacher fell from a stepladder and was left unconscious.
Stonyhurst College fined £100,000
A fine of £100,000 was issued to Stonyhurst College, an historic private school in Clitheroe, Lancashire, after a stonemason developed silicosis. He could have been exposed to silica dust in excess of 80 times the workplace limit, the HSE said, during a 21-month project to repair the building.
Guidance for Schools
The guidance document “Guidance for Schools Converting to Academy Status” 2017 from Somerset County Council states:
“As the employer, the board of governors of an academy has overall accountability for health and safety for the school workforce and students, and must ensure that the academy complies with all health and safety legislation. The LA carries no civil liability for health, safety and wellbeing in academies”
In addition, The Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy Document, Compliance Monitoring for Schools Premises & Management 2018 section 3 states:
“Where an offence is committed under the HSWA 1974 by a body corporate with the “consent, connivance or neglect” of any director, manager, secretary or similar officer, that person may be prosecuted as well as the body corporate.”
This means that senior personnel have special responsibilities to ensure that health and safety is properly managed within their organisation and in areas under their remit. Enforcement inspectors tend to look closely at the role of school leaders and managers when carrying out inspections.
Section 4 of The Management of Health & Safety also states:
“In order to ensure that the health and safety arrangements within an organisation are effective there must be systems in place to ensure that the risks which arise from the organisation’s activities are identified and controlled. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to manage health and safety by assessing risk”
It is clear that becoming a Schools Academy brings with it the same legal duties and responsibilities that a Director of a commercial organisation must meet. Be that Health & Safety, Environmental or any other area of Statutory Compliance within the organisation.
The question is simply this – How Confident are you in your Academy’s Health & Safety, and Statutory Compliance?
As part of the Compliance Standard Group, icet solutions works with organisations across the UK to identify Statutory Compliance by utilising a unique process of Cloud Based Integrated Management Solutions, Statutory Compliance Models, International Standards Accreditation, Consultancy, Training and support.
Whether you’re a CEO of a large global supermarket or an owner of a small convenience store, failing to be compliant can cost you millions of pounds in fines. Here are some of the worst examples from 2017.
When it comes to safeguarding your business, customers and employees, it’s vital to consider your legal obligations regarding health and safety, environmental, quality and security compliance.
Failure to do this can not only tarnish the reputation of your business and put people’s lives at risk, but also result in a sizeable fine.
So, if you’re thinking about cutting corners or believe you need to tighten up on certain procedures, you may want to take a look at this list first.
One Stop – £250k fine
Fareham Borough Council successfully prosecuted One Stop Ltd for health and safety failures last year, costing the chain of convenience stores £250k.
The incident occurred back in September 2016, when a customer sustained serious injuries after tripping over a pothole on the forecourt.
The Environmental Health Officers revealed that the local store had numerous opportunities to repair the pothole, but failed to do so. An easy fix resulting in a big fine.
Iceland Foods – £2.5 million fine
Frozen food giants, Iceland, faced a staggering £2.5 million fine after a fatal accident occurred at one of their stores in Rotherham.
On 28 October 2013, a contractor visited the store to replace the filters within an air conditioning unit situated in the warehouse on a plant platform above a suspended ceiling.
Unfortunately, the contractor fell three metres from the platform and through the ceiling. As a result, he sustained fatal injuries.
The following investigation discovered that the Rotherham store had failed to carry out a risk assessment and tried to argue that they were intending on fitting a guardrail.
Tesco – £8 million fine
Following the horsemeat scandal in 2013, Tesco made the headlines for the wrong reasons again last year when they were fined £8 million.
The fine was issued after a huge fuel leak happened in 2014 at the Haslingden petrol station, polluting a Lancashire river. According to the Environment Agency, over 5,000 gallons of petrol escaped from the Tesco filling station and entered the sewerage system. The careless act not only killed local wildlife, but also forced some locals to leave their homes after suffering from headaches and sickness.
As it stands, this is the largest fine for a single incident of pollution in the UK.
Laing O’Rourke – £2.5 million fine
Construction company, Laing O’Rourke, was issued with a monumental fine in 2017 after an isolated incident resulted in the death of an employee back in 2014.
The tragic event occurred when large concrete panels weighing several tonnes toppled over onto 29-year-old employee, Richard Reddish. The father of one was killed, with the following investigation revealing that Laing O’Rourke hadn’t previously completed a single risk assessment.
The company’s failure to take the simple but essential precautionary measures has ended in the worst possible scenario.
Howden Joinery – £1.2 million
Fitted kitchen supplier, Howden Joinery, were forced to pay £1.2 million after a lorry driver was killed whilst visiting their depot in Cumbria.
48-year-old agency worker, Richard Brown, was crushed when a forklift overbalanced and left him trapped against the HGV. The maximum weight capacity of the forklift truck was 1,520kg, yet the combined weight of the kitchen worktops was 2,160kg.
A preventable incident and avoidable fine if the right training was previously carried out for their agency workers.
The lesson here is to ensure you carry out the relevant actions and have the right training in place for your employees. Don’t put things off or shun accountability, because it could result in serious injuries, incidences and fines.
So if you want to avoid making our 2018 list, you might want to consider getting a second opinion.
Here at icet solutions, we offer a wide range of services, from compliance management software to providing training and e-learning. To find out more, get in touch today.
Many businesses are simply unaware that easily avoidable compliance failures can destroy a successful company in one day.
‘Meeting regulatory compliance’ describes an organisation ensuring that they are aware of, and take the necessary steps to comply with relevant laws and regulations for Quality, Environmental, Health & Safety, Security and Facilities Management. Managing legal compliance is therefore critical for any organisation.
In its business sense, “compliance” refers to a company meeting its legal obligations. Businesses are often not fully aware of the specific legislation that applies to their company activities and unfortunately, this is not a defence in a court of law should things go wrong.
Understanding legal requirements can be time-consuming and expensive. Many companies sign up to online services, however, even this can be frustrating as the company still needs to interpret what is relevant and just as importantly, what is not.
The most obvious consequence of effective compliance is that it decreases the risk of fines, penalties, work stoppages, lawsuits or even a shutdown of the organisation. Too many companies are so focused on day to day business that they ignore the growing need for a compliance management strategy. Another, lesser known consequence of effective compliance is that by effectively managing processes, organisations tend to save significantly on costs.
Failing to meet your legal obligations, can also be very costly. A recent survey* showed nearly 50% of the organisations are not aware of the cost of compliance. This points towards mass wastage of time and money.
This survey also found that the use of an integrated management software solution improved compliance management significantly, allowing business owners to focus on day-to-day operations.
So you need to change, but how?
Once the need for a regulatory change is identified, many organisations struggle to ensure that the change process is completed. Regulatory change is often handled on a project basis, supported by spreadsheets and other such manual tools. Such an approach is fraught with risk – things can slip through the cracks and evidencing results to key stakeholders, including regulators, senior management, and Boards of Directors, can prove to be difficult.
Organisations that adopt a regulatory change management system are better able to realise a range of benefits, including reduced compliance risk and improved communication with stakeholders. The time and resources freed up by a simpler, streamlined approach means that businesses can focus on enhancing shareholder value through improved analysis, more thoughtful reporting, and working directly with the organisation to improve strategic planning.
Icet solutions ltd are an Integrated Management Solutions provider working within Quality, Environmental, Health & Safety, Security and Facilities Management sectors offering an end to end compliance solution.
*Source: NAVEX Global research
Most small and mid-sized businesses don’t have the luxury of a dedicated Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) department. In many cases, EHS responsibilities are delegated to one or two people who wear multiple hats within their company. If this situation sounds familiar, be aware that you may be leaving yourself open to compliance management risks that you can’t afford to take.
Nearly half of businesses in a recent survey said their top compliance management challenge is keeping compliance policies up to date with new and changing regulations (NAVEX Global research).
If your EHS compliance is DIY, you need to develop a plan to address ever-changing compliance regulations. Getting it wrong can mean fines or even prison sentences. Getting it right is therefore the only option.
A recent survey spanned respondents at small (25%), midsize (31%), and enterprise (43%) businesses, as well as government and non-profit organisations. Nearly half of the business and organisations (47%) said their top policy management challenge is keeping compliance policies up to date with new and changing regulations.
Other top policy management challenges included;
- Training employees on policies (40%)
- Out of date policies and inaccuracy (32%)
- Demands related to legal compliance (31%)
- Easy access to policies and procedures (28%)
- Document management (23%)
Nearly 50% of the organisations said they are not aware of the cost of compliance within their organisations. Typically in these cases, where companies have gone on to implement compliance management software, they have saved significantly on costs.
The report found that integrated management software such as that provided by icet solutions, improved compliance management execution by improving the efficiency of policy quality, communication, workflow, and access.