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0 votes
Would it be acceptable for councillors to not submit the proper documentation prior to doing work in a public area? Also how long after said ‘work’ would it be acceptable to have still not submitted said documentation?
by (250 points)
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5 Answers

0 votes
Could you be clearer with your question please, not quite getting your point I don’t think.
by (5.4k points)
A group of three councillors went to a public park, sprayed paint to outline an area of a field which was being discussed by the council for improvement/changes. This was done without discussion with the rest of the council, no risk assessments were completed and no COSH. Despite continued requests from members for the documentation they haven’t completed it and ignored emails.
As unacceptable as it is I’m afraid unless you involve a lawyer there’s very little you can do about it.

If those Cllrs don’t have the respect for the Council and have such little professionalism and integrity they should probably consider their positions.
That said they could argue they were doing it in a personal capacity and just so happen to be Cllr’s.
Was there indisputable evidence that it was a group of three councillors that did this, such as CCTV footage or was it just hearsay?
0 votes

In short it is not acceptable, and is potentially in breach of legislation.   First point, you should have quoted COSHH  (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) with an extra "H"! 

A risk assessment is a document which identifies the risks associated with an activity and their severity with respect to the employees or participants health. It is a requirement of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

It could be argued that your Cllrs have breached this regulation. What is clear is that if Council staff had undertaken the task, they would have most definitely had to have had a risk assessment in place before commencing.  Because the cllrs are not  employees, they could claim exemption from the need for a risk assessment, particularly as nobody asked them to do the work on behalf of the council.

That said your Liability insurance should be studied carefully - in order to maintain cover, it might call for any activity undertaken by members, irrespective of location or the nature of the work,  requires a risk assessment.  If any of the Cllrs are at risk of being attacked in surgeries, they may be covered by insurance but the insurance may well stipulate a risk assessment  If they had been injured on barbed wire or rammed by a bull in a field, without a risk assessment they leave themselves open to a charge of personal negligence, particularly if they were to try and claim compensation for injury by the landowner.

by (35.5k points)
edited by
+1 vote
Standing orders says Councillors are not allowed to inspect property etc
It seems a breach and equally I don't think it's professional in any way to do this.
by (4.6k points)
+1 vote

Seems to me there are two separate issues here. 1, A minority group of councillors have acted unilaterally to the exclusion of the rest of the council without prior discussion and agreement and that in itself has to be unacceptable for a number of reasons. 2, A way to chastise this unacceptable behavior is now being sort through H&S and COSHH regulations.

What a wonderful 'big stick' opportunity H&S and COSHH regulations can provide thesedays in bringing persons to heel, but it might be better to address such unaceptable behavior in more direct manner using the rules of transparency and openness in council debating and decision making.
If the paint used was a reputable and approved ground paint it will have its own COSHH sheet complying with the necessary regulations showing it to be safe for the purpose it is intended. If the paint wasn't approved ground paint then some legs do need slapping especially if this is in a pubic area.
A risk assessment is expected to be proportional in relation to cost and any reasonable potential of risk, the key word being reasonable. It is hard to imagine how any risk at all might be involved in the action you describe, unless of course there are indeed bulls in the field or it is maybe in use for some other potentially hazardous activity you have not mentioned but then if it's a public area it sounds more like it might be a sports ground or similar and therefore as a public area must surely be by default already void of any such H&S risks or hazards.
Most people have common sense and one would hope that three councillors might be able to summon sufficient between them. Therefore if there is obviously no risk involved then the key words 'cost -V- reasonable potential' would come into play. A risk assessment carried out by unqualified laymen has no real merit and would be unlikely to be accepted by insurers or a court if it came to that. Therefore a qualified RA should always be commissioned whenever common sense indicates tha a risk may exist. However the objective of a risk assessment is to reduce any identified risk to what might be considered reasonable -V- costs involved.
Personally, considering that this is already a public open space I can't see that the action you describe would reasonably justify the cost of a professional risk assessment as it sounds like you might just end up with a high fee in exchange for a blank document.
Although I do fully endorse that the autonomous and possibly  fractious behavior you outline to be very disagreeable.
by (1.0k points)
0 votes
The use of cosh and risk assessment should apply to all facilities held by the parish council. For example is paint was used and a dog being walked on area was taken ill after licking the paint,  the council would have to demonstrate they had taken reasonable precautions when carrying out the task, hence the Cosh and risk assessment route. We are in a world of legal guidelines and it is important to protect yourselves against legal claims. The insurance that our parish council uses insists on all activities have both cosh and risk assessment undertaken prior to any activity taking place
by (6.3k points)
COSHH (2xH's) data sheets accompany products that are deemed to be hazardous and they are supplied by the manufacturer. The COSHH data contains information on handling and storage toxicity, medical advice etc, etc, some products that are not obviously hazardous may still require COSHH data sheets; such as say aerosols even if a non toxic product or fine inert powders as the bulk storage and handling could prove to be hazardous. COSHH assessment and data sheets would usually be conducted by a manufacturer or a factory/business owner not the end user purchasing a single unit.

Reputable manufacturers provide their COSHH data sheets on line and I don't really see how an end user or even a risk assessor would be able to COSHH assess an individual aerosol can of ground marking paint at its point of use and besides because ground marking paint could be washed into a water course a reputable brand will be aquatic safe, none toxic and non irritant. .

The field in question is said to be a public park and as such should have a regular and ongoing H&S risk assessment. All that the 3 rogue councillors were doing is effectively the same as any member of the public would do in a park, ie. walking about in what should be, by default, a completely hazard free public open space and if they have an ounce of common sense would be using a reputable ground marker paint that again should be hazard free.

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