With stricter sentencing guidelines now in place for Health & Safety offences, our Operations Director Christian Berenger explained to Tomorrow’s FM Magazine how workforce management software can help contractors meet their obligations.
Changes to the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act should act as a wakeup call to facilities management contractors to consider how they safeguard the welfare of their workforce.
From February this year judges can take into account the company’s turnover, profits and directors’ pay when deciding what fine to impose so that it is large enough to have an economic impact on the organisation involved.
That means major companies, with an annual turnover of more than £50m convicted of corporate manslaughter could face fines of up to £20m under new sentencing guidelines, and up to £10m for fatal health and safety offences.
The Sentencing Council says stricter fines are required to reflect the severity of the crimes committed and should act as a deterrent to bring home to an organisation the importance of operating in a safe environment.
With tougher sanctions now in place, the onus is now on facilities contactors to prioritise worker safety by evaluating their compliance procedures and putting robust systems in place to safeguard the welfare of workers.
Workforce management systems have evolved to provide contractors in the FM industry with the tools they need to protect lone workers, mitigate risks and streamline compliance obligations.
They no longer simply automate employee start and finish times, but are powerful tracking applications that provide a true insight into what’s happening at site level, allowing managers to manage multiple sites, monitor worker movements and demonstrate proof of service delivery.
The real-time nature of today’s systems means managers can immediately spot if a worker arrives late on site.
If a worker fails to clock in at a scheduled time, the software will highlight the anomaly to managers so they can respond immediately and make contact with the employee to check their welfare.
Direct integration with on-site fire alarm systems also supports managers to account for every individual in the event of an emergency. Should an evacuation take place, automatic roll call reports can be sent out to the muster points so they can determine exactly who was on site at the time of the incident.
Active management of compliance documentation and deadlines also helps contractors enforce their compliance to regulations and optimise workforce utilisation.
Serving as a comprehensive HR tool and document management solution, the latest systems make it easier to store, access and stay on top of individual’s Right to Work eligibility, Visa applications, qualifications, skills and licences, eliminating over-reliance on paper files and spreadsheets.
Alerts can be configured to inform managers when important expiry dates are approaching to ensure that all licenses and certifications remain fully up-to-date and valid.
With more contractors operating a one-stop service, detailed intelligence about each worker’s background, credentials and skill sets empowers managers to create accurate rosters by allocating the right workers, with the right competencies, to each job.
Skills shortfalls are also easier to identify. A good example is if a cleaner is appointed to a contract at a school or hospital and fails to have a relevant DBS check or a specific shift fails to include a designated fire marshal or first aid representative; this will be automatically flagged up so they can make necessary adjustments to minimise risks.
Meanwhile, the capacity to record risk assessments, briefing meetings, specific job instructions and safety guidance allows workers to view and acknowledge that they have understood them before commencing their work.
All too often a contractor’s health and safety failings are only highlighted in the aftermath of an incident following an investigation.
But with tougher penalties now in place, the implication of a serious incident in the workplace is not worth thinking about.
Prevention is always better than the cure and a move to workforce management now provides an opportunity for contractors to adopt a proactive approach to worker safety and keep on top of compliance processes.