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Workplan 2015-16: Fresh produce intervention programme

Summary

This outlines HSE’s intelligence-led priorities for targeted inspection and enforcement of poor performers in the fresh produce subsector during 2015-16 where migrant working can be anticipated and there is potential for joint working with other agencies in delivering this work.

Introduction

The Government remains concerned at the potential for abuse and exploitation of temporary and migrant labour. This area continues to have a high degree of focus and it poses reputational risks to HSE. There is evidence of wide-scale illegal practices including:

A Joint Workplace Protocol has been introduced to detect, disrupt and deter the illegal employment of migrant workers by sharing information (between HSE and other Government departments and enforcement agencies).

The fresh produce subsector is well known to attract migrant workers. It includes the collection, preparation and supply of:

Fresh produce field work and related pack house activities take place in all geographical FOD divisions and are generally seasonal by nature.

Action

FOD geographical Divisions should

FOD DIOs should

Identify priority sites for intervention; useful indicators to help identify such sites include:

Inspectors should

Inspectors must

Background 

The fresh produce supply subsector has been identified as appropriate for carefully targeted proactive inspection. It is characterised by third-party supplied labour including vulnerable/migrant workers. Poor cooperation and coordination between labour users and labour providers (Gangmasters) has lead to poor management and poor control of risks.

Previous initiatives in FOD Central Division. undertaken with other enforcement authorities, have generally led to significant formal enforcement action.

Migration of workers to GB continues to have a high political and media profile and to generate concerns about abuse and exploitation. These concerns cover a range of issues including occupational health and safety, often in conjunction with other allegations about, for example, low wages, illegal deductions from wages and poor living conditions. In some instances conditions can be so poor as to amount to modern slavery – now a specific offence under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

There is good evidence/intelligence of poor performance from third party sources, including the GLA and the retail supply chain. Examples of poor health and safety standards include generic issues such as:

It is also believed there is considerable under-reporting of RIDDOR incidents.

Organisation 

Timing

The work should take place throughout 2015/16 taking account of the generally seasonal nature of the subsector and the fresh produce activities relevant to your region.

Resources

All geographical FOD Divisions will take undertake visits.

Recording & Reporting

Reporting inspections

FOD inspectors should use COIN in the normal way to record visits via inspection visits – where migrant worker issues are addressed, the key word ‘migrant’ should be included in the Notes details.

Inspectors should also share with the Agriculture Sector any issues of particular note (eg particular instances of good or extremely poor practice) with any relevant photographs, copies of letter/notices etc.)

Feedback on activities

Heads of Operations will be asked to make narrative reports to FOD HQ via the quarterly Unit Performance Reports summarising the:

Feedback

The Agriculture Sector will use COIN reports, Heads of Operations reports, enforcement action (notices and prosecutions) and overall rating scores to produce a summary report in the first quarter of 2016/17.

Health & Safety

Forced labour may be indicative of more serious criminality, and HSE staff safety should accordingly be a priority.

Diversity

Diversity is an important issue in migrant working, especially language, gender issues and different cultural assumptions. HSE inspectors have access to interpretation and translation services for field visits and investigations, and callers to our confidential helpline can ask for advice in a number of foreign languages.

Further references

Contacts

POSD Agriculture Health, Education & Employment Team, Nottingham.

Updated 2015-06-05