Fatal crash illustrates the need to respond to risk management information
A failure to act on the information provided by modern risk management tools has resulted in a fine of £2.3 million for bus company, Midland Red (South), part of Stagecoach.
A failure to act on the information provided by modern risk management tools has resulted in a fine of £2.3 million for bus company, Midland Red (South), part of Stagecoach. This acts as a warning to all companies that these tools could become a threat to an organisation if the information generated is ignored.
The company concerned admitted breaching health and safety standards and was sentenced along with their driver Kailish Chander, aged 80, after a two-day hearing at Birmingham Crown Court. Midland Red’s telematics system, driver trainer and passenger complaints had consistently raised issues over the standard of Chander’s driving. However, the company allowed him to continue to work and on October 3, 2015 he mistook the accelerator for the brake pedal leading to the fatal crash. The coach he was driving accelerated into a supermarket, killing two people.
Chander was also working in excess of 70 hours a week and was found to have been driving dangerously at a fact finding trial in September. He could not be found guilty as he was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial, but was subject to a two year supervision order, which includes conditions of being under a social worker and a psychiatrist for the entire time of the order.
The court heard that the company sent eight warning letters to the driver about the standard of his driving after its telematics system flagged up poor performance, and during sentencing, Judge Paul Farrer said: “Midland Red (South) was well aware that was working long hours and the quality of his driving was diminishing.
After sentencing, Phil Medlicott, managing director of Midland Red (South), accepted that there were a number of failings at the company.
“While we met in full all the regulations around driver working hours and had all of the relevant checks in place, our own detailed policies were not followed as closely as they should have been,” he said.
“There were failures at an operational level in driver supervision and we deeply regret the opportunities that were missed to act decisively on emerging warning signs.”
Clearly risk management tools such as telematics and in-cab coaching devices can produce “invaluable” data to safeguard the public, the company and the driver, but if not recorded and acted upon then the courts are likely to view this as a failing at the company. The information collected by a telematics system needs to be easily understood and shared across relevant management and employees, and failure to do so leaves the public, the company and drivers exposed.
Medlicott said that following the accident, Midland Red (South)’s priority has been to put these matters right.
“We carried out a comprehensive review of all of our policies and have made several key changes,” he said. “This means we have in place a significantly more robust safety regime than is required by law.”
This includes more frequent medical testing and a pre-medical review for older drivers, with appropriate checks being carried out every six months rather than on a statutory annual basis.
He added: “We have also provided additional training to all drivers and strengthened the application of our accident reduction processes.
“We cannot turn back the clock in this case, but we have sought to do everything possible to learn lessons and ensure that this kind of accident does not happen again.”