MHA | Concrete Casings Manufacturer Disciplinary - Case Study

Concrete Casings Manufacturer Disciplinary - Case Study

Joanna Rose · September 26th 2023 · read

HR Soultions Newsletter September 2023 3

Our client, a manufacturer of concrete casings, discovered that they had been using a substance which is hazardous to health without the correct PPE (breathing apparatus, masks and gloves) and that it had decanted which it should not have been.

They confronted the employee responsible for Health and Safety including COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) as he signed off the COSHH sheet. He admitted that he hadn’t read it, and had just signed it. He said that he thought the Managing Director would not be happy if the product didn’t go out, and that they had been using the substance in this manner for 20 years so what was the problem?

Clearly this was a serious issue as it could affect people’s health and also lead to Personal Injury claims against the client. The employee appeared to have been completely negligent; we advised to fully investigate with a view to taking disciplinary action.

The client therefore investigated. Whilst the employee had been doing the role for some time, it emerged that he had not been sufficiently trained. We advised that the employer had a duty to ensure proper training was provided, but in addition that if the employee felt he wasn’t trained then he should have said so; he was being paid to do the job. The client, however, also did not have any form of proactive performance management in place e.g. appraisals or Performance Improvement Plans, and so accepted that there had been limited opportunity for the employee to raise his lack of training as a concern.

We therefore considered the level of disciplinary action to be taken. Whilst the seriousness of the situation would potentially mean that this was a gross misconduct offence, rendering the employee liable to summary dismissal, there were clearly mitigating factors to be taken into account. On that basis, we advised that a written warning would be appropriate along with arranging COSHH training for the employee. We additionally advised that the client should implement a performance review system so that issues like this could be captured in the future.

This case demonstrates the importance of considering the “range of reasonable responses” when deciding the level of disciplinary action to be taken.

HR Solutions can advise and assist you at any stage of a disciplinary process, from initial investigation though to Settlement Agreements or Conciliation via ACAS.

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