Is Amey’s Health and Safety record an accident waiting to happen?
By Richard Davis
Prior to any organisation being awarded a contract, it is imperative that a number of things are established first, one of which is the health and safety details relating to the bidder.
It is inevitable that all organisations, no matter how big or small, will have entries in their accident books; some may also have reported certain incidents to the relevant enforcement authority under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). This is not an automatic ‘deal breaker’ when it comes to the awarding of a contract but is certainly worthy of consideration.
However, there are other greater considerations, namely their enforcement action and prosecution record. This is where an enforcement body such as the Health & Safety Executive might have issued an improvement notice or a prohibition notice, which must be complied with. Prosecution is usually the last resort when enforcement notices have not been complied with, or a more serious incident has occurred such as a major injury, or a workplace fatality. This sort of information could have far greater bearing on any contract award decision.
Prior to bidding for the Streets Ahead contract, a workplace fatality occurred on an Amey highways contract.
It is not known whether Amey declared this fatality and pending prosecution to Sheffield City Council (SCC) or not, as a Freedom of Information request was declined. However, it is known (through another FOI request which was granted) that Amey did NOT later inform the Council that they had been convicted of the H&S offence, despite being required to do so in writing. In response, the Council stated they could not locate any information in relation to this.
The conviction was handed down by the courts just 3 months before Amey were due to submit their final tender. It could be perceived that Amey possibly withheld this information so as not to be disqualified from bidding, thus remaining in contention to win the £2.2bn contract.
Breaches of health and safety legislation are prosecuted under criminal law. Ordinarily, when an organisation has been successfully prosecuted, it results in them tightening up their health and safety standards.
Going by information available in the public domain, these tragic incidents just keep on happening to Amey as can be seen:
- TWO workplace fatalities (the one mentioned above took place on a highways contract, another on a rail contract)
- a THIRD fatality last year (on a waste/refuse contract, likelihood of prosecution)
- implicated in a FOURTH fatality (on a highways contract)
- THREE criminal convictions for non-fatal incidents (although two were major life threatening/changing injuries that both occurred on highways contracts:
– £600,000 fine for Council contractor after major burns to employer
– Road construction firms sentenced after road worker loses arm
– Company fined for safety failings when dealing with asbestos at a school
According to Cllr. Bryan Lodge, Amey have a “better than average safety record.” Going by the above statistics, I’d hate to see a bad one…
– Richard Davis is a member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)