Tuesday 8 December 2015

Glasgow bin lorry and the expensive suggestion


An inquiry into the Glasgow bin lorry crash has found that the tragedy in which six people died could have been avoided if the driver Harry Clarke had not "repeatedly lied" about his history of blackouts. 
 begins the opening and accurate paragraph on the findings of the inquiry into the murderous runaway bin lorry of last Christmas.

The fatal accident inquiry by Sheriff John Beckett listed 8 reasonable precautions for employment of council waste drivers, , which mostly boil down to "The applicant should not lie on their employment or medical forms." And "The employee should check those forms..including checking the medical records."

The NHS  advice is that employers cannot ask for medical records without consent. And the applicant has the right to see the report before it is sent and to have it amended if incorrect. Far too long I suspect. And if a prospective employer refuses to provide the medical information, they don't have to be employed. Another recommendation is not to employ 'subject to' but 'after receiving' satisfactory references. How long would that take? It could be months. 

An old employer of mine used to insist on all references being obtained by the employee within 4 weeks. An almost impossible task as employees cannot navigate the corporate HR bureaucracy or the lackadaisical efforts of SMEs.That requirement was extended to 8 weeks. With still little success it was finally dumped back onto HR where it belonged. 

What is worrying for BQ is the seemingly sensible precautions of

  • Local Authorities and any other organisations which collect refuse, when sourcing and purchasing refuse collection vehicles which are large goods vehicles, should seek to have AEBS fitted to those vehicles wherever it is reasonably practicable to do so.
  • Local Authorities and any other organisations which collect refuse, and which currently have large goods vehicles without AEBS but to which AEBS could be retrofitted, should explore the possibility of retrofitting with the respective manufacturer.
Now hang on a minute....

 This incident involved a refuse lorry. An unusually large and heavy vehicle that operates in public spaces on a stop/start basis. The accident occurred at the absolubte annual peak pedestrian traffic time for Glasgow. Christmas shopping . Monday, 2.30pm, 22 December.  The first day of holidays for the kids and many workers and is the ultimate high street shopping day. And 2.30pm is 'wave two' in retail. The lunch eaters coming back out and the early shoppers on their final few shops, and the latecomers just emerging for an afternoon shop. Couldn't have picked a more packed moment.

The reason the lorry ran over pedestrians was a medical condition. The driver had lied over a number of years about his blackouts. He passed out and drove over pedestrians.

How likely is this event to occur in this way again? What is the cost of the retrofit? Did the Sheriff find that out before he suggested the council hike up the poll tax to ensure an accident unlikely to ever occur again won't occur again?

 The Germanwings plane that the pilot deliberately flew into the alps killed 150 people. 25 times the number killed in Glasgow. 
The solution to that undeclared medical problem was not to have a second cockpit fitted to all aircraft so a pilot could take control from a mental co-worker. It was to have two people in the cockpit at all times.

AND anyway..

EU regulations: 1 November 2015, EU legislation will mandate the fitment of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems on most newly registered Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes. 

So new vehicles will have the device anyway. 

By suggesting, {and its worth noting this was just a suggestion in the inquiry report}, the installment of braking devices, isn't the incident being treated as a likely, rather than an unlikely event?


AndrewZ said...

I suspect that high-profile inquiries like this tend to fall victim to what "Yes, Prime Minister" defined as "the politician's syllogism":

1. We must do something
2. This is something
3. Therefore, we must do this

There is so much pressure to come up with a definitive judgement that they will be tempted to make any recommendations that might possibly make an event of this sort unlikely to ever happen again, even if it is already unlikely to ever happen again.

The most sensible response would be to accept that it was a freak accident caused by the selfish and irresponsible behaviour of one individual, and to then prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a 'WikiCV' for all who draw money from the public. A requirement that it be up to date, truthful and complete and open to scrutiny. All jobs to depend absolutely on same. Might fix one or two other problems.

Anonymous said...

There is an enormous amount of legislation - and related case law for this area. The phrase "satisfactory references" is outdated as it is almost impossible to give an "unsatisfactory" reference. Then there is the issue of rights to work and rights to stay.

But is there a benefit in all the on-cost? Probably.

In theory, you don't get paedo's working with children. You don't get doctors who can't speak English working with patients. You don't have unqualified people running the country....

The difference between the theory and the practice is 'uman resources' cutting corners and failing to do the work. Like all systems they are only as good as the people operating them

Steven_L said...

Another recommendation is not to employ 'subject to' but 'after receiving' satisfactory references. How long would that take? It could be months.

That's how enhance criminal records disclosure works. I had my council interview at the beginning of Feb 2012, accepted the offer of the job the same day, but started July 2012. There was a cock up when someone sent me the wrong form though, and I do have a lot of old addresses to check against.

But it usually takes at least 3 months to get someone started here.

Bill Quango MP said...

We have the same instruction. But its impossible to follow. So it becomes - "take him on..but with someone else.." then " only give him codes for the main doors " then " here's the safe keys..but don't take them home.."

Raedwald said...

& because none of this works in the construction industry when skilled operatives are needed for a same-week start, 'passport' references such as the CSCS card are used. On a recent job we had a crackdown on fake CSCS cards and lost a brilliant and essential telehandler driver as a result; his kosher replacement was only a third as efficient ...

dustybloke said...

Heresy to say it nowadays, but sometimes you have to shrug and say "Shit happens".

We have become a society where every problem must have a solution implemented. Which is why we pay 52% of our GDP to the State and God knows how much to institutions charged with looking after the public.

Jan said...

How many old fogeys are driving around as accidents waiting to happen in private vehicles? I would say an awful lot and they fight tooth and nail to keep their licences because driving is seen as independence. Old folks (in my experience) don't take kindly to being told they're not fit to drive and certainly wouldn't volunteer such information to the DVLA. We can expect many more accidents as the population ages although maybe not so dramatic as the Glasgow bin lorry incident.

Electro-Kevin said...

If they want to devote time to saving lives they could do worse than restrict speeds on B roads to 40mph. Far more people die on small coutry roads than in bin lorry incidents.

dearieme said...

Time for one of my favourite nanny goats again. Only once have I smelled a rat in an applicant's claimed academic qualifications. I phoned his university; he had indeed lied. He didn't get the job. Later he popped up as an MEP.

dearieme said...

I understand that old fogeys in their seventies are much safer drivers than people in their twenties. If you wanted to make the roads safer you'd ban all males under 25 or 30.

How about people in their eighties? Have they, ahem, overtaken teenagers in their killing rates?