Public Liability & risk on irish roads


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Public Liability & risk on irish roads


Overview

  • Your ethic

  • Context

  • Prevention through management of risk

  • Claims



Ethic

  • To do the right thing as a public servant

  • Failure to undertake required action could be construed as wastage of public resources or fraud (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (2015); National Audit Office UK (2012)



Changing local authority environment

  • Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (2009)

  • Local Government Act, 2014

  • Capital & revenue allocation – changes since 2008

  • Increasing body of compliance requirements

  • Amalgamation of local authorities & town councils

  • Changes in staff levels & skill mix

  • Availability of competent professionals

  • Increased demands for quality records/documentation

  • Increase in public liability claims (2014)



Changing road environment

  • Roads

  • Footpaths

  • Cycle paths

  • Motorways

  • Establishment of Transport Infrastructure Ireland

  • Developments in technology – MapRoad

  • Ownership of road assets

  • Community involvement



Local authority responsibility

  • Compliance – legislation, codes of practice, standards & guidance

  • Provide safe roads, footpaths & cycle paths

  • Manage allocated budget – probity of public monies

  • Deliver on your professional ethic – to do the right thing

  • Prevent harm to the public and local authority employees



Definition 1/5

  • Road includes any bridge, pipe, arch, gully, footway, pavement, fence, railing or wall forming part thereof (Road Traffic Act, 1961)



Definitions 2/5

  • Footpath means a road over which there is a public right of way for pedestrians only, not being a footway (Roads Act, 1993)

  • Footway means that portion of any road associated with a roadway which is provided primarily for use by pedestrians (Roads Act, 1993)



Definitions 3/5

  • Road:

    • Any street, lane, footpath, square, court, alley or passage
    • Any bridge, viaduct, underpass, subway, tunnel, overpass, overbridge, flyover, carriageway (whether single or multiple), pavement or footway
    • Any weighbridge or other facility for the weighing or inspection of vehicles, toll plaza or other facility for the collection of tolls, service area, emergency telephone, first aid post, culvert, arch, gulley, railing, fence, wall, barrier, guardrail, margin, kerb, lay-by, hard shoulder, island, pedestrian refuse, median, central reserve, channelliser, roundabout, gantry, pole, ramp, bollard, pipe, wire, cable, sign, signal or lighting forming part of the road, and
    • Any other structure or thing forming part of the road and:
    • Necessary for the safety, convenience or amenity of road users or for the construction, maintenance, operation or management of the road or for the protection of the environment, o
    • Prescribed by the Minister (Roads Act, 1993)


Definitions 4/5

  • Risk can be thought of as a possible loss or other adverse consequence that has the potential to impact on a local authority’s ability to achieves its objectives and fulfil its mission

  • Managing risk is a process whereby decisions are made to accept a known or assessed risk and/or  the implementation of actions to reduce the consequences or probability of occurrence and increase opportunities for success (Warner et al 1992)



Definitions 5/5

  • Liability is the state of being legally responsible for something (Oxford English Dictionary)

  • Liability is linked to negligence and decided on by the Judge in court



Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies

  • First published in 1999; updated 2001 & 2009 & under review

    • An effective risk management system identifies and assesses risk, decides on appropriate responses and then provides assurance that the chosen responses are effective


Risk management process 1/5

  • Risk management four-step process

    • Identify the risks
    • Assess the risks
    • Manage the risks
    • Monitor and review


Risk management process 2/5

  • Step 1: Identify the risk

  • Establish the context & identify the risks

  • Establish an asset register of:

    • Roads
    • Footpaths
    • Cycle paths
    • Street furniture
    • Services
  • What is the value of the assets?

  • What is the condition of the assets?



Risk management process 3/5

  • What are the risks on roads, footpaths, cycle paths that could give rise to harm for the public and employees?

    • Uneven surfaces
    • Potholes
    • Manhole covers
    • Slip/trip/fall hazards
    • Flooding
    • Damage to property
    • Street furniture
    • Utilities


Risk management process 4/5

  • Drivers/cyclists:

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Health/mental health
    • Speed
    • Competency
    • Distraction & mobile phones
    • Fatigue
    • Intoxicants
    • Compliance with rules of the road


Risk management process 5/5

  • Vehicles:

    • Type
    • Age of vehicle
    • Maintenance history
    • NCT/VRT
    • Distractions in cab
    • Reversing cameras/ mirrors/audible alarms


Claims 1/2

  • Increasing trend in public liability road and footpath claims:

    • 2014 – 14% increase
    • 2015 – 30% increase
    • Slips/trips/falls on pavements
    • Road traffic claims from road defects and potholes
  • Fraudulent claims



Claims 2/2

  • Role of the Injuries Board:

    • 90% of claimants represented by Solicitor
    • 40% of settlement offers rejected →Court & ↑litigation costs
    • 80% of claims – whiplash (France 3%)
    • Average cost of whiplash in Ireland €15; in UK €5k
    • 33% of motor claim costs - whiplash


Key stakeholders

  • Statutory bodies:

    • Local authorities
    • Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport
    • Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government
    • Health and Safety Authority
    • Road Safety Authority
    • An Garda Síochána
  • Insurance companies

  • Transport infrastructure Ireland

  • Chartered Institute of Logistics Ireland

  • Irish Road Victims Association Ireland (IRVA) (NGO)

  • Promoting Awareness, Responsibility & Care on our Roads (PARC)



Step 2: Assess the risk



Step 3: Manage the risk

  • Terminate the risk – this should always be the first consideration

  • Treat the risk – consider if the risk can be mitigated by application of controls

  • Transfer the risk – ensure applicant’s insurance cover is adequate

  • Tolerate the risk – if the risk is low, there may be nothing further you can do



Treatment through prevention – inspection 1/2

  • Management policy & procedures for inspections

  • Assign responsibility

  • Reference asset register

  • Define the hierarchy of roads & footpaths

  • Inspections:

    • Walked inspections for footpaths
    • Slowly driven inspections for roads


Treatment through prevention – inspection 2/2

  • Define frequency of inspections

  • Identify what is to be included in the inspections

  • Agree the inspection methods to be adopted

  • Record utilities

  • Extensive & detailed safety regimes increase prevention of accidents & supports defence of claims

  • Incorrect/insufficient information may lead to flawed defence & increased costs for Council



Supporting evidence



Importance of signage



Investigations

  • Investigate as early as possible

  • Agree standardised approach for all local authorities

  • Define the defect intervention/investigatory levels

  • GPS coordinates

  • Photographs/video with landmarks

  • Seek advice/support early

  • Criminal investigations:

    • An Garda Síochána
    • Health and Safety Authority
    • Forensic Engineer (appointed by IPB)
    • Vehicle Forensic Engineer (appointed by IPB)


Documentation

  • Document findings:

    • Complete
    • Accurate
    • Clear
    • Storage/security
    • Management reports – interrogate & act on findings
    • Legally privileged
    • Freedom of Information and Data Protection


Step 4: Monitor and review

  • Monitor quality of inspection process:

  • Complaints/incidents/claims

  • Audit:

  • Preventative action following near miss/inspections

  • Corrective action following incident/claim



Key messages Integrate the practice of managing risk into the day-to-day business activities of the local authority Comply with your ethic as a public servant



Working to make a difference Please do not hesitate to contact us

Rosemary Ryan Risk Manager | Client Risk Management Services | IPB Insurance

Direct: +353 1 6395 519 | Switch: +353 1 639 5500 | Mobile: +353 87 967 2124 |

Email: rosemary.ryan@ipb.ie | Web: www.ipb.ie

1 Grand Canal Square, Grand Canal Harbour | Dublin 2 | Ireland




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