The fines were levied on the basis of the club not having implemented safe procedures for tree management, not having provided adequate training in the operation of equipment – in this case a chainsaw – and having inadequate health and safety risk assessments.
All of these areas were ones in which the club could have provided the necessary health and safety framework, had it predicted issues that could emerge, asked for specialist support, and explored effective and easy ways to provide training.
Although the court heard the club was volunteer-run, it felt this no reason not to provide employees with their legal entitlement of being safe at work.
Any club believing its own systems foolproof should ensure it has reviewed them and asked the key ‘what if?’ questions that make health and safety robust. If there are no training and certification records, they should seriously consider training, or refresher training, to strengthen health and safety and have the ally of an audit trail if things go wrong. They should make no assumptions about employees’ previous training, as Hinckley did.
An easy way to create the audit trail is via Gauntlet e-learning. This is cost-effective training, delivered from a computer at a location and time to suit, covering some of the key scenarios that led to the Hinckley tragedy. Modules include training in Machinery Safety, Working at Height, Working Safely (IOSH) and Risk Assessment and clubs paying for a licence to access these can put more than one employee through the training.