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Health and Safety case - lessons for compiance officers

FCRO Subsection: 
Nigel Morris-Cotterill

The obligation to train staff for e.g. counter-money laundering purposes is hardly a surprise. But, as Nigel Morris-Cotterill says, the training of temporary and agency staff is often overlooked. As this health and safety case shows, that is not acceptable.

A drayman for a beer distribution company was seriously injured when he fell from the tail-lift of a lorry and several kegs fell on him, including on his head. He was an agency worker who started that day.

The details of the accident are not the point of this story. The relevance for compliance and risk officers is how companies deal with temporary, agency and even new staff.

In this case, a spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said “Employers who use agency workers or contractors have a responsibility to firstly establish the workers’ competence, taking into account their level of experience and familiarity with the work and work equipment, and then provide the appropriate level of training to ensure the work is done safely. If appropriate training had been provided, the life-changing injuries sustained by the agency worker could have been prevented.”

Now let's rephrase that paragraph slightly: “Employers who use agency workers or contractors have a responsibility to firstly establish the workers’ competence, taking into account their level of experience and familiarity with the work and work equipment, and then provide the appropriate level of training to ensure the work is done safely. If appropriate training had been provided, the money laundering that was not reported by the agency worker could have been prevented.”

Despite the fact that we are 25 years into the counter-money laundering regime across much of the world, my oft-repeated message that new and temporary staff must be assessed for competence and knowledge and trained to the company's standard remains unheeded. Staff, especially temporary staff, are put into vulnerable positions without adequate assessment or training.

This case shows that some regulators are taking such things seriously, especially when there is a breach. The question is whether companies and their responsible persons are to continue to escape action in relation to financial crime training. The Regulations are clear: all staff must be trained. No exception is made for new or temporary staff and nor should there be. Financial regulators such as the UK's FCA, Australia's ASIC and the USA's FinCEN need to pay attention: it's an area they have neglected since before some of their staff were born and that's not good enough.

Companies need to ensure that new and temporary staff have acceptable knowledge before they start work, no matter what the perceived urgency of the engagement.

 


 

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