Workplan 2015-16: Fresh produce intervention programme
- Open Government Status
- Fully Open
- Publication date
- Review date
- Guidance owner
Agriculture, Waste and Recycling Sector, Policy and Operational Strategy Directorate, Health, Education and Employment Team
- Target Audience
FOD DIOs and Inspectors dealing with the fresh produce sector
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.
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:
- illegal employment
- bonded labour
- avoidance of tax and National Insurance
- excessively low wages
- benefit fraud
- provision of poor housing
- excessive working hours
- lack of employers liability insurance
- neglect of health and safety responsibilities
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:
- root crops, e.g. potatoes, carrots, swede, turnips
- other vegetable crops, e.g. peas, beans, salad crops, herbs
- crops grown in glasshouses, e.g. tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers
- soft fruits (grown under glass or in the fields) e.g. strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, red/black currants
- horticulture products, eg cut flowers, bulbs
Fresh produce field work and related pack house activities take place in all geographical FOD divisions and are generally seasonal by nature.
FOD geographical Divisions should
- plan a geographically based, seasonally targeted programme of proactive inspection in the subsector
- focus on the topics relevant to your region
- liaise with the POSD Agriculture Sector (Health, Education and Employment Team, Nottingham) before finalising your programme
- wherever possible, deliver your interventions with the support of other enforcement agencies such as the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority (GLA), police, fire services and the local authority
- liaise with the Agriculture Sector on the delivery of, and support for, inspections before committing to arrangements with partner organisations
FOD DIOs should
Identify priority sites for intervention; useful indicators to help identify such sites include:
- previous enforcement – notices, prosecutions
- RIDDOR accident and incident history
- concerns received
- local knowledge from Inspectors and Visiting Officers
- Adverse Insurance Reports (AIRs)
- in the first instance, focus proactive inspections on any sites that are identified locally by DIOs as priorities for inspection
- take opportunities for multi-agency working identified initially by HSE’s Single Point of Contact (SPoC – Head of POSD’s Agriculture Health, Education and Employment Team, Nottingham)
- follow the guidance in HSE’s Migrant Working Intervention Manual for intervention where migrant working can be anticipated
- focus inspections on compliance with HSWA and the management of health and safety
- focus attention during inspections on the issues listed in the Manual, Appendix 3 and further notes in Appendix 4, which address:
- accommodation – and, in particular, the provision and use of domestic gas safety appliances
- transport to, and from, the place of work
- personal protective equipment
- welfare facilities:
- First aid
- Washing facilities
- Sanitary conveniences
- information, instruction, training and supervision
- manual handling
- be mindful of the implications for intervention where migrant working is likely to be encountered (Migrant Working Intervention Manual)
- follow closely the guidance set out in the manual for HSWA interventions
- maintain awareness of the indicators of illegal employment and forced labour set out in the manual, Appendix 5
- report to HSE’s SPoC where there are suspicions or evidence of illegal employment as indicated in the Issues of Concern table in the Joint Workplace Protocol
- inform the police immediately and copy the SPoC if they encounter evidence of any of the following, which may be evidence of forced labour, an offence under section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009:
- violence, or threats of violence, to the workforce by the employer or the employer’s representative
- threats against the worker’s family, or threats to expose the worker to the authorities, for example because of the worker’s immigration status or offences they may have committed in the past
- employer withholding the person’s documents, eg passport or other identification
- restriction of movement
- debt bondage
- withholding wages
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:
- allocation of responsibility
- assessing workplace risks
- implementing control measures, including
- the provision of:
- information, instruction, training, supervision
- personal protective equipment etc
- notification of accidents and cases of ill health
It is also believed there is considerable under-reporting of RIDDOR incidents.
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.
All geographical FOD Divisions will take undertake visits.
Recording & Reporting
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:
- numbers of premises visited
- enforcement action (notices and prosecutions)
- any other interesting issues to note.
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 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.
POSD Agriculture Health, Education & Employment Team, Nottingham.