Lone worker companies call for Health and Safety policy reviews due to new Sentencing Council guidelines
Members of the British Security Industry Association’s (BSIA) Lone Worker Section have called for companies to review their Health and Safety policies in light of new guidelines that have just been issued by the Sentencing Council relating to Health and Safety, food and corporate manslaughter.
The guidelines will be considered by Courts of Law at the point of sentencing an organisation or an individual on all Health and Safety, food and corporate manslaughter-related offences. This news, of course, will directly impact those companies who employ some of the six million estimated lone workers presently operating across the UK.
For businesses employing individuals whose job roles require them to work or operate alone, either regularly or on an occasional basis, there’s a legal obligation to keep those workers safe. Employers should:
*understand their legal responsibilities as an employer (or the occupier of a premises)
*ensure that a detailed and thorough risk assessment is carried out and that strategies are implemented with a view to providing a safe operational environment for lone workers
*ensure that all lone workers have the relevant resources and information to hand – in addition to the appropriate training – such that they might work on their own in both a safe and secure manner
*have procedures in place to deal with a lone worker having an accident or signalling an emergency situation
Reducing the risk
By having policies and procedures in place to meet these legal responsibilities, employers can greatly reduce the risk to their lone workers, not to mention the risk of prosecution or large financial penalties where breaches occur.
Under the new Sentencing Council guidelines, employers who breach their Duty of Care towards employees and non-employees alike face significantly larger fines if sentenced on or after 1 February 2016, regardless of when the offence was committed.
Typically, fines for serious breaches used to run towards several hundred thousand pounds, but under the new guidelines these can start at a fine of several million pounds for a large organisation found to be highly culpable in a harm Category 1 incident.
Courts are given guidance on how to determine the offence category using culpability and harm factors. These are then used to determine an offending organisation’s fine from a matrix of suggested ranges.
In addition, there are a number of ‘aggravating factors’ which can result in an upward adjustment of any fine imposed. One such factor is ‘cost cutting at the expense of safety’. Clear evidence, then, of the importance of procuring lone worker services on the basis of quality rather than purchasing on price alone.
Corporate manslaughter fines have also increased significantly. The previous starting threshold recommended for all corporate manslaughter convictions was £500,000, but under the new guidelines a Category A (ie high culpability) offence committed by a large organisation would see fines starting at £7.5 million with a category range of between £4.8 million and £20 million.
Smaller organisations will also be confronted with potentially business-killing penalties for any proven transgressions of the law. An organisation with a turnover of between £2 million and £10 million, for example, could now be facing up to £2.8 million worth of fines if found guilty of a Category A offence.
Critical financial penalties
Craig Swallow, chairman of the BSIA’s Lone Worker Section, commented: “The new guidelines signify an increasing importance for businesses of all sizes to review their Health and Safety policies and procedures. Failure to do so could result in the injury or death of an employee which might see the business facing critical financial penalties. Not only that, but directors could also be prosecuted on a personal basis.”
Swallow added: “That being so, it’s vitally important to consider sourcing lone worker services that protect those employees who may be required to work alone or who are not directly supervised, whether occasionally or regularly. When sourcing lone worker services, companies should look for systems that offer devices or smart phone applications certified to BS 8484 and which are monitored by an Alarm Receiving Centre certificated to BS 8484 (Part 6), BS 5979 (Cat II), BS 8591 or EN 50518.”
Choosing a service from a reputable supplier will help to ensure that the solution in question fits the lone working application and risk profile of the company. Members of the BSIA meet strict quality criteria and are quality audited to BS 8484.
*To source a reputable lone worker service provider visit: www.bsia.co.uk
Opening of Suzy Lamplugh House
SoloProtect – the provider of lone worker protection solutions and manufacturer of the popular Identicom lone worker device – is celebrating the official opening of Suzy Lamplugh House in Sheffield, the company’s new UK headquarters and home to its state-of-the-art Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC).
In attendance at the official opening were guests including Clive Betts (MP for Sheffield South East), Sir Keith Povey (president of the BSIA) and Rachel Griffin, director of The Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
The day featured a range of industry presentations, networking opportunities and a full guided tour of SoloProtect’s new premises (which are based close to the Meadowhall roundabout on Sheffield Road in Tinsley).
The ARC will begin handling SoloProtect customers’ Red Alerts from 2016 and has undergone – and passed – an audit in order to be the first dedicated lone worker ARC to receive accreditation against BS 8591 and the European Standard EN 50518 (both of which relate to ARCs).
Craig Swallow, managing director of SoloProtect UK, explained to Risk UK: “Our goal is to deliver the quickest response to our customers with the most qualified staff both today and into the future.”
Ongoing strategic partnership
By dint of the recent business expansion, SoloProtect has now added 14 new full-time positions to its growing UK operation, all of them based in Sheffield. This year, SoloProtect introduced a formal Living Wage policy, raising the company’s lowest wage to a minimum of £11 per hour (significantly above the UK threshold of the national £7.85 per hour outside of London and £9.15 in the capital).
The new building is of course named after Suzy Lamplugh, SoloProtect’s nominated charity being The Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
SoloProtect and The Suzy Lamplugh Trust officially announced a new strategic partnership in June this year. That partnership sees SoloProtect offer ongoing support to The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, with part of the new building being made available to the Trust in order to deliver safety training.
The official opening of Suzy Lamplugh House also featured a prize draw in aid of the Trust which managed to raise just under £300 on the day.
Dedicated lone worker safety device
SoloProtect’s Identicom is used by more than 150 000 lone workers worldwide and by organisations such as the NHS, Hilti, Sky, Domino’s Pizza and Family Mosaic to provide protection for their lone workers. Indeed, it remains the most widely used dedicated lone worker device in the UK.
Craig Swallow developed the idea for the Identicom lone worker solution after attending a Suzy Lamplugh Trust event about personal safety back in 2002. The device was deliberately designed to look like an ID badge and, importantly, to be both discreet and wearable for the end user.
SoloProtect’s acquisition by American company Kings III Emergency Communications back in 2013 helped the business’ expansion, with the Identicom solution now available direct to market in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany and France as well as here in the UK.
“We truly take lone worker protection and lone worker safety passionately,” commented John Broady, CEO at SoloProtect. “It absolutely drives everything that we do.”