In the previous blog, I pointed out some confusion across the industry regarding training and competence. I also highlighted that there was a choice regarding what the industry has always accepted as a ‘competence’ scheme for our transport operations.
Over the past few months, across many forums, including the CLOCS Safety Forums and Working Groups, QNJAC, and IQ CPD events, MinTrain™ have highlighted the importance of competence and the need to ensure that current standards are maintained, and new competencies developed to raise the bar across our sector.
It was mentioned by someone within one of the ‘majors’ that because it employed the services of hauliers, the onus lies with the haulier (or transport company) to demonstrate competence and not the supplier company.
Again, it seems that confusion around responsibilities continues to cloud the judgement of many.
Competence plays a vital role in controlling health and safety risks across our industry sectors, and while it won’t guarantee safety, it will improve performance standards in the working environment.
While there’s much legislative background and legislation involved (plus having the benefit of Roy Bush’s extensive knowledge on this subject), the legislation on using contractors is clear enough.
Although only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law, it’s worth remembering that the client company remains responsible for operational safety and occupational health and safety, regardless of using its own employees, hauliers, transport companies, and hire or agency drivers, under Sections 2 and 3 of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Regardless of the worker category, a legal duty remains to ensure they are ‘competent’ to control the relevant risks.
When employing any contractors, the client company needs to be able to verify that individuals have been assessed as competent against the same or equivalent standard they’d set out for their own employees.
Another option is to regard the contractors as their employees, bringing them in line with their competence requirements with periodical reassessments, training and record keeping.
Defining who is responsible for managing competence can be written into contracts; however, competence still needs to be verified by the client company.
Whichever route you go down, there’s no getting away from corporate responsibilities.
At the end of the day, the client company, whoever that might be, MUST take ultimate responsibility for the competence of all its workers.
So, whichever card scheme or training provider you use, you need to make sure that you can meet your duty to provide the required level of competence to keep everyone safe.
Just a shame that politics continue to hold progress and innovation back when we should be aligned in making the industry safer.