Scenario: You are a newly appointed health and safety advisor for a construction company. You work in the head office, which is a two-storey office building, along with:
- 20 other office-based workers who administer construction contracts. One of these workers has impaired hearing;
- an office-based contracts manager, who co-ordinates construction work contracts and activities;
- 20 mobile construction workers, including an operations manager, who occasionally visit the office in their vehicles.
The opening hours of the office are flexible depending on the needs of the work.
The contracts manager has a reputation for being irritable and unapproachable, is only seen when arriving and leaving, and is occasionally abusive if interrupted.
The office building is in a business park away from main traffic routes. The office has its own on-site car park, but spaces are sometimes limited. When all of the allocated spaces are taken, some vehicles are parked across existing parked cars, blocking them in and making it hazardous to manoeuvre. No one has assessed the risks in the car park.
Recently, a near miss occurred in the car park, when a distracted construction worker reversed their vehicle recklessly, narrowly missing a fellow construction worker walking to their own vehicle parked opposite. As a result, there was an angry exchange between the two of them.
You decided to talk informally with some of the workers. They described previous near misses and minor collisions; with vehicles reversing out of allocated spaces into other vehicles, and vehicles narrowly missing pedestrians. The workers said that they would not report these because they were afraid of being blamed. Also, no one listened to them or took any action. They also told you that there is no formal health and safety discussion between workers and managers.
In your role as a health and safety advisor you would like to improve health and safety because you take your responsibilities seriously and want to make the workplace safer for everyone.
You discuss the near miss and subsequent exchange with the two workers and the operations manager. You ask for their opinions. The worker, who was almost struck by the reversing car, suggested that it would be safer if everyone reversed into car parking spaces. The operations manager was less helpful and said that there was nothing to worry about, and that this has been happening for years, but no one had ever been seriously hurt. The operations manager also said it was best for people to sort it out themselves.
Workers tell you that outside of daylight hours, lighting levels in the car park are poor. Sometimes workers arrive and leave when it is dark. Floodlights are mounted on the office wall facing the car park. However, the floodlights were not working at the time of the incident. Again, no one had reported that these lights were not working.
You have decided to review the commitment the company has made to worker health and safety. There seems to be no statement of general policy (statement of intent) on health and safety. The policy is not displayed on noticeboards. You have searched the company intranet and you cannot find this statement of general policy anywhere. You have asked the contracts manager about this, who replied that the safety policy is an important document and is only available if needed for third parties. None of the workers know what a statement of general policy looks like. You tell the contracts manager that the company is breaking health and safety law.
Due to the seriousness of the recent car park near miss and health and safety policy issues, you insist that a health and safety committee meeting should be held as soon as possible. You have asked the contracts manager and the operations manager to attend. Both managers agree, as the last health and safety committee meeting was over a year ago.
Task 1: Discussing moral reasons for managing health and safety (10 marks)
You have been asked to chair the health and safety committee meeting. Before the meeting, you decide that you will open the meeting by reminding everyone of moral expectations of health and safety.
Prepare notes of the moral arguments you will use at the meeting.
Note: You should support your answer, where applicable, using relevant information from the scenario.