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Workplace cycling group

mazulemazule Posts: 54
edited January 2014 in Road general
Hi,

There is suddenly a considerable appetite by my employer to encourage cycling. Both in terms of commuting but also generally which is a great thing.

For my part I volunteered to get a small "bike club" going for lunch time rides but I am overwhelmed by the h&s requirements. For the company to be covered by their liability insurance it seems I need to do a risk assessment for every route. This I think in nonsense. Can anyone familiar with running any kind of cycling club give me some advice on how a general type of risk assessment could be used.? Or any other advice that would be useful. I don't want this to be a dead idea before it has even got off the ground.

Thanks in advance,
Mazule

Posts

  • Why do you need to be covered by the company liability insurance? Most cycling clubs have a clause in the agreement saying that the safety of each rider is their own responsibility, not that of the club.
  • mazulemazule Posts: 54
    Because apparently using work resources to organise/promote means it automatically become a company activity. And apparently "at own risk" doesn't cut it. Bonkers isn't it.
  • mazulemazule Posts: 54
    And work resources includes email. Kinda regretting volunteering really. It would just be nice to get more people out on bikes.
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    I would expect a risk assessment to include such control measures as:
    1. Using lower risk routes (e.g. no dual carriageways, not in busy town/city areas)
    2. Abiding by/applying the Highway code
    3. Keeping numbers within the group to a maximum size
    4. Training of the group members (could be a short in house session)
    5. Being selective about weather conditions (do not go out when it is icy)
    that sort of thing.

    Repetative tasks do not require a full writtten risk assessment each and every time you do them. Cycling applies here.

    If you need an argument does everyone at work do a route specific risk assessment every time they go out in their company vehicle? I bet not. If they do (why?) then just adopt the same process.

    In short tell them to stop being stupid (in a professional and nice way).
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • Coach HCoach H Posts: 1,287
    edited January 2014
    How much support is the company actually going to give?
    Do you want really it?

    I am a Chartered Safety Practitioner and unofficial organiser of a group of workmates interested in road cycling. I am quite clear that, other than using the company name as an informal identifier, we are an independent group who just happen to, mainly, work together. The key is that the IT policy allows for personal use of e-mail etc. I don't use the company's e-message boards to communicate what we are doing and dont use any company funds/resources for kit etc. Therefore no company liability.

    If you are going to have the company be directly involved, then smidsy's suggestions for risk assessment considerations are sound. You should also consider the roadworthyness of the bikes, although demonstrating the competence of who checks them will be problematic. It would also make it easier if you made helmets mandatory (and before you argue about personal choice remember it no longer applies as you are in effect on company business).

    Its worth taking note of the fact that while it seems bonkers to have to do all this stuff, what is actually bonkers is the number of people who will try to claim it was someone elses responibility for their own misfortune.

    [Pedant on] Its not 'H&S requirements' its Tort Law and its been around for centuries [Pedant off]

    Finally, dont let these small issues put you off.
    Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')
  • Coach HCoach H Posts: 1,287
    Why do you need to be covered by the company liability insurance? Most cycling clubs have a clause in the agreement saying that the safety of each rider is their own responsibility, not that of the club.

    1) Because clubs are not, generally, employers
    2) They haven't taken appropriate advice and mistakenly think this clause covers them from liability. Unless thay have been very smart all it will do is put people off from claiming believing this clause will prevent them doing so.
    Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    Coach H wrote:
    I am a Chartered Safety Practitioner
    Wow me too - I thought I was the only one :wink:

    I purposefully refrained from going all 'squiffy corporate' on the matter, but am happy to converse on the subject if assistance is required.
    Coach H wrote:
    Its worth taking note of the fact that while it seems bonkers to have to do all this stuff, what is actually bonkers is the number of people who will try to claim it was someone elses responibility for their own misfortune.

    THIS + millions. Bloody insurance companies innit!
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • mazulemazule Posts: 54
    Thanks for the suggestions. I'll pursue this a little further before I decide the paperwork isn't worth the effort.
  • Coach HCoach H Posts: 1,287
    smidsy wrote:
    Coach H wrote:
    I am a Chartered Safety Practitioner
    Wow me too - I thought I was the only one :wink:

    Nah, there's loads of us. Two in our little group and another one qualified and thats before you start totting up all the Cert holders.
    smidsy wrote:
    I purposefully refrained from going all 'squiffy corporate' on the matter, but am happy to converse on the subject if assistance is required.

    Glad I didn't quote Stark v Post Ofice then in relation to road worthiness.............Doh, now look what you've made me do :lol:
    Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    Coach H wrote:
    Glad I didn't quote Stark v Post Ofice then in relation to road worthiness.............Doh, now look what you've made me do :lol:

    IIRC there was no fault on the PO in that case?
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • Coach HCoach H Posts: 1,287
    smidsy wrote:
    Coach H wrote:
    Glad I didn't quote Stark v Post Ofice then in relation to road worthiness.............Doh, now look what you've made me do :lol:

    IIRC there was no fault on the PO in that case?

    Sorry but YDNRC. Post Office found liable by Breach of Statutory Duty at appeal. Reg 5 of PUWER provides liability without fault, no forseeability required for breach of stat duty. This even though the brakes on Stark’s bicycle failed due to metal fatigue or manufacturing default that could not have been found by inspection.

    Enjoy :wink: - http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2000/64.html
    Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    Damn my selective memory

    This is the only bit I recalled
    'In the result His Honour Judge Cracknell found that there was no liability in negligence and from that finding there is no appeal. The judge also found that there was no breach of statutory duty, and thus dismissed Mr Stark's claim.'
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • mazulemazule Posts: 54
    You folks are alarming me somewhat with your talk of court cases and the such!
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    It is actually (largely) unrelated and not helpful - sorry.

    As my initial post states there really is no big deal and even if they insist on a RA it can be adequaetly controlled by a generic RA with a quick review box to cater for any additional hazards that may be relevant for the specific day.

    Look at the existing RA's/processes in your company for a repetative task (manual handling, driving company vehicles, lone working etc.) and adopt the same principles.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • mazulemazule Posts: 54
    No worries. Thanks for the advice.

    Do you have any views on the CTC group affiliation, and the insurance it comes with? Or seems specifically tailored to protecting ride leaders.
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    I have no firm view one way or the other, but being involved and linked to a recognised organisation that promotes safe cycling can only improve your position.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • Aren't you on dangerous ground when you start talking about 'ride leaders' etc? As it's just a bunch of mates off for a lunchtime ride? If you start saying this person is the ride leader it can easily escalate in you having to take an official course etc.
  • MoonbikerMoonbiker Posts: 1,706
    Best if you had just organized it unofficially without involing them. Surely what activity you do in your own time i.e lunch break is up to you.

    No need for offical organization insurance or leaders etc is there?
  • mazulemazule Posts: 54
    You are of course right that informal and unofficial organisation would seem much easier and would my preferred approach but this would miss the objectives really.

    1) The aim is to try to get more people out on two wheels and in this office we have a potential audience of 850 to 900 people with maybe 8 or so commuting by bike. Without using formal communications it is unlikely we could reach everyone.

    2) There seems to be some cash (not a massive amount but a bit) about to improve facilities for extra-curricular activities. If we demonstrate a decent following in terms of cycling we have more leverage to get better facilities for ourselves. So even though the idea of helping more people get out of cars and onto bikes is something that appeals to me, this is not all selfless.

    So like it or not if we want to make use of the offer of assistance from the company, it really needs to be formal. I am well and truly a duck out of water though.

    Thanks for the above so far. I'll get into the world of RAs.

    Mazule
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    Use the HSE website - full of really useful free downloads and advice.

    Their mantra these days is 'sensible and proportionate', even they do not expect anything to be risk free.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,490
    British Cycling should be able to help with a general RA - they do a simple one for Breeze rides (ladies only rides).
    Regarding pre-riding the route(s) to assist with the RA - if you're taking an experienced group out then you can react to dangers as you come across them, if you're taking a rabble out then they may not react appropriately. A ride leader may have knowledge of the expected hazards and control the group accordingly (like a fast descent with a tricky bend at the bottom).

    I may be wrong, but I understood that affiliated cycle clubs ride leaders were covered by insurance (through the affiliation) for organised group rides. Individuals should insure themselves.
  • Coach HCoach H Posts: 1,287
    smidsy wrote:
    Use the HSE website - full of really useful free downloads and advice.

    Their mantra these days is 'sensible and proportionate', even they do not expect anything to be risk free.

    This may be the HSE's mantra, although not in my industry, but the OP is not dealing with the HSE and their mantra has no influence on the insurers (or managers using the insurers as their whip) who are requesting these controls.

    As I said in my first comment, this has nothing to do with H&S Law (including the HSE) it is Tort Law covered by insurance.

    Don't be put off, the risk assessment should be easy. The CTC or British Cycling may be able to help but I would advise you to get your companies RA proforma and include the controls already suggested by me and smidsy and work out what hazards these controls are for. It does not have to be great and all professional looking as it will likely never be critically reviewed even if someone does hurt themselves and claims. In my experience it will be used by insurers as no more than a tick in a box and the financials of any claim will be the primary concern. The RA does NOT have to be a cast iron document that will prevent any and all injuries and loss (contrary to popular opinion).

    The main questions are; are you happy to do a bit of admin around the organisational stuff you will probably do anyway and do your company know they may be liable for issues arising during the rides and therefore happy for their insurance to cover it in the event of a claim? If the answer is 'yes' to both then crack on.

    Stop reading the Daily Mail, this suff is really not hard or I would not be doing it for a living :wink:

    PM me if you want any more specific advice
    Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    I agree with all of what you say but not the bit to dismiss the HSE reference and suggestion.

    The HSE are the enforicng authority for all work related Health,Safety and Welfare in this country and the legal requirement for RA comes from the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (via the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations).

    If he is being tasked/required to do something by the employer and they are treating it as a company activity the HSE stance is very relevant.

    And what industry do you work in that does not involve the HSE?
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • Coach HCoach H Posts: 1,287
    smidsy wrote:
    And what industry do you work in that does not involve the HSE?
    Top Teir COMAH with significant societal risk. My comment was with regards to 'sensible and proportionate' and certainly not that my industry does not involve the HSE, far from it.
    smidsy wrote:
    I agree with all of what you say but not the bit to dismiss the HSE reference and suggestion.

    The HSE are the enforicng authority for all work related Health,Safety and Welfare in this country and the legal requirement for RA comes from the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (via the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations).

    If he is being tasked/required to do something by the employer and they are treating it as a company activity the HSE stance is very relevant.

    Civil Law duty of care is the issue here thus the original reference to RA's being a requirement of the companies liability insurance. They are only asking for a RA as it is a commonly used term that could be used to show that the duty of care has been fulfilled.

    IMO the HSWA (and even less the Management Regs) do not apply as the participants of these rides are not 'at work'. If they were being paid to ride their bikes and/or if riding formed part of their employment (such as Posties) then it would be different. If the organising became part of the OP's role /job description than it may be different. This definition is different to the Civil Law duty of care and as such the HSE would be out and have no enforcing remit over this activity.

    Trying to 'simplify' H&S by bundling together the principles of Civil Law liability and Statutory liability does anything but and causes far more confusion than it solves.

    Mazule, if you want to be sure just contact your local HSE office (should be listed on your HSE Info poster) and ask them. Be prepared for a short conversation.
    Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    I shall agree to disagree on some of these things as this is not helping the OP.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • gethincerigethinceri Posts: 1,075
    Why not get your employer to stump up for you to be qualified as a coach or some such? Then you'll get something back for your discretionary effort.
  • mazulemazule Posts: 54
    gethinceri wrote:
    Why not get your employer to stump up for you to be qualified as a coach or some such? Then you'll get something back for your discretionary effort.
    This might be on the cards eventually. Just not initially.
  • Coach HCoach H Posts: 1,287
    Go to the British Cycling website and put 'risk assessment' into the search and you will find loads of info and examples

    http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/search?s=risk assessment&p=3
    Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')
  • Great info guys - this should be a sticky for reference.

    H&S can be a sensitive area - so a more grounded approach help calm things
    Sure this sort of thing can apply across other areas.

    Acha
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,490
    Risk Assessment is a dirty word in many ppls eyes - it sounds like loads of paperwork for no return.

    But in reality - it's mostly just formalising what we do on an adhoc basis anyway. TBH, it doesn't harm to go through a generic risk assessment for your activity anyway - then just think how you could mitigate those risks - if appropriate.

    My wife has to do one for each Breeze ride she organises - they have a proforma sheet that can then be adjusted for any specific risks. It takes less than 5 minutes - and most of that is printing the form ...
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