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West Somerset Railway Operations

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    So what happens then if part of the procedures referred to in the SMS document - on this case the HR policies are removed/not followed?
     
  2. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    Dipping my toe in here as it's been a long time since I had any involvement with this area.

    Isn't there a mandatory requirement that falls within the scope of the Management of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations, for a company to document and maintain its HR policies?
     
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  3. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Indeed..............
     
  4. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works New Member

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    You hit the nail on the head. It’s supposed to be a hobby, although obviously one that requires people to follow certain safety and business procedures. Any procedures should be readily accessible to managers, staff and volunteers. The best organisations recognise the need to be open and encourage debate, the worst seem to be run by people operating beyond their capabilities who hide behind their ‘rank’ to stifle any dissent.
     
  5. torgormaig

    torgormaig Well-Known Member Friend

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    So what happens.......? Apparently nothing (or it would have happened by now). Any document within the SMS can be rewritten at any time (eg a rule book update/modification) and as long as you can prove that the rewrite is not dangerous to life or limb the ORR will find it acceptable. Remember they do not tell you what to do - rather they ask what are you going to do about xyz... They are hardly going to find fault with a railway's HR policies as long as their safety procedures are robust and adhered to. I suspect that you are making a moral judgement about the WSR's percieved HR policies, or lack of them, whereas the ORR are only interested in how they conduct themselves in relation to operational matters.

    Peter
     
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  6. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Hmmm, I'm not entirely convinced by that, given that the suggestion is not that these policies have been rewritten, but withdrawn. My experience of being on the receiving end of quality audits (in a non safety critical environment) is that the absence of referenced policies, especially if there are credible suggestions that the absence is deliberate, will tend to provoke further investigation as starting to cast doubt on whether and how other, more directly operationally relevant, elements of the documentation are being adhered to. Were I inspecting in such circumstances, I might also find information about senior managers and directors already in the public domain influencing my judgement on how to interpret their statements.
     
  7. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Well, for starters

    Secondly the explanation I have been given is that if there is a safety related incident volunteers involved have to go through a disciplinary process which no longer exists and have a record put on their personal files which also now can't exist in the absence of a HR policy. It also means that there are no rules for volunteers to follow.

    The only thing I am not sure about is what has happened to HR Policies for employees or have these gone the same way
     
  8. torgormaig

    torgormaig Well-Known Member Friend

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    I still think you are making a moral judgement here. Were the ORR interested they would have acted by now. It is not as if the goings on in West Somerset are hidden from view. I am sure that they have the means to keep a close eye on the goings on at all heritage railways and there are plenty of people on the ground who feed back to them. If they have not taken action it is because there is nothing in their remit that says that they need to. As has been said many times you need to be careful not to confuse moral and legal matters in this dispute.

    Peter
     
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  9. ikcdab

    ikcdab Member

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    This is exactly right. The SMS is a whole collection of documents. However, when I was chairman there was a single overarching document that gave the background and signposted to the subsidiary documents such as the rulebook.
    The key bit is SAFETY management system. That's is, it describes way that the railway runs safely. As such, HR policies (e.g. recruitment and interviewing procedures, discipline, managing young people etc) are not part of the safety system and the SMS we had then specifically excluded this sort of process. Its the same for financial procedures or commercial operations.
    I don't know what the situation today is, but not having HR policies as part of your SMS does not violate it.
    Ian Coleby
     
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  10. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Your point about how the ORR would have acted is fair comment. However, I was trying not to make a moral judgement but to comment on how my experience of responding to a quality audit can open up further questions, and how the risk basis of such an audit can be influenced.

    I also note the point made by @ikcdab about how the SMS used to be structured, which I think supersedes both our points.
     
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  11. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    BUT................

    If you have an incident, how do you investigate it/discipline staff & volunteers if you dont have a HR policy - which I think it is accepted the PLC no longer has?
     
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  12. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    Forget volunteers for a moment: the employer's HR policies also form part of an employee's contract of employment. Were they not to be readily available to the employee, how would an employee be expected to comply with them? I suspect an employee's barrister (is there one in the house?) would make hay in those circumstances.

    Patrick
     
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  13. torgormaig

    torgormaig Well-Known Member Friend

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    Look I have no insight to the management of HR or diciplinary matters on the WSR, but knowing how keen the authorities are on robust record keeping I suspect that they have adequate procedures in place. There is a lot of Nat Pres hearsay on this matter which just does not ring true to me. I know you are keen to get the ORR to join in the "fight" on your side but that is not likely to happen on the basis of your unsubstatiated HR assertions. Believe me if there was any substance to what you claim we would have heard about it by now.

    Peter
     
  14. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    What is the insurance situation then?
    No HR Policy does that mean you are not covered by insurance if an incident occurs.
     
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  15. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    It makes sense that policies around recruitment, managing young people etc. don't form part of the specific safety management system, but I'd have thought discipline ought to, as that's all tied up in what happens if there's an operational incident, e.g. a SPAD.

    Having written that I just checked the GWSR safety management system overarching document (which as @Jamessquared and others have pointed out, isn't the entire SMS, it just describes it) and it is pretty much as I said above, i.e. nothing on recruitment or young people, but it does feature discipline grievances and complaints. It says the disciplinary procedure has been approved by both the GWSR Plc and GWR Trust, and copies of that are displayed on all internal notice boards. That implies to me that a) the separate discipline policies uploaded on HOPS and on station notice boards are part of our SMS, and b) the very requirement to publish them so they're easily available for all to see is also part of the SMS. The same is also true of our grievance procedure. How we deal with customer complaints is also outlined in the SMS document as well by the way.
     
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  16. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    No

    Patrick
     
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  17. torgormaig

    torgormaig Well-Known Member Friend

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    There you go again - if you repeat something often enough on Nat Pres that does not make it a fact:)! Accepted by whom? Call it what you like but the PLC will have some form of HR policy in place. It may be different to that which was in place last year or the year before but it will have policies there nonetheless.

    Peter
     
  18. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    We know that the Plc board reads this site. It also said there were a lot of untruths, and that rather than ignoring them they'd now start to put some rebuttals out into the wider world. I'd have thought that this would be one they were keen to set the record straight with, and ought to be fairly straightforward to do as well, simply say "It's on HOPS and departmental notice boards" job done. The fact that even volunteers generally pro the current board have not denied that HR policies have been withdrawn, when they've engaged on a number of other matters here, lends credence to the story. In fact one or two have even said that the lack of HR policies was "regrettable" or some such similar phrasing, which hardly sounds like they're contesting it.
     
  19. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Indeed, far better put than anything I could have said.
     
  20. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    May I suggest that there are a number of questions that could usefully be answered by a representative if the PLC. Simple ones with a Yes/No answer ideally.

    If someone, possibly a reader rather than a contributor to this thread, so that they are not as involved in at as I am might be so good as to identify them & create a list, then the PLC could answer them?
     
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