We operate in a safety-critical environment and, after a couple of ‘near-miss’ events, we would like to introduce CCTV to ensure that our employees are carrying out their roles in line with our health and safety obligations. Are we able to do so and, if so, how should we go about it?
It is possible for employers to monitor their employees and there are a variety of ways in which it can be done. For example, some employers conduct monitoring of internet and email usage to ensure that employees are not accessing inappropriate sites or communicating inappropriately. I’ve outlined below some of the main considerations when introducing CCTV monitoring.
An appropriate first step is to consider the reasons for the monitoring, the impact it may have and whether there are any possible alternatives (otherwise known as an ‘impact assessment’). While a lengthy document in this regard is not required, it may be helpful to have a short note on file stating the need for CCTV and that, while it may impact privacy, it is being used to reduce the risk of accidents in your workplace and is therefore justified.
You should then consider who will be responsible for managing the system and how it will be used. For example, decisions should be made as to what is to be recorded, how it will be stored, who will have access to it and to whom it may be disclosed (e.g. the police or the Health and Safety Executive).
Anyone involved in managing or using the system should also be aware of their obligations under the Data Protection Act, such as ensuring that the footage is destroyed when no longer required.
The next step is to inform your employees that CCTV is being introduced and why (in this case, reference can be made to your goal of reducing workplace accidents). Most importantly, you should make it clear to the employees which areas will be monitored. In addition, signage should be introduced to make it clear to anyone who may be captured on camera (including visitors or customers) that monitoring is taking place and why. The signage should also explain to whom any queries about the CCTV can be made, including their contact details.
Where possible, the cameras themselves should capture only areas of relevance, such as where work is being carried out by your employees. You should avoid focusing cameras on areas where people can reasonably expect privacy, such as changing rooms and third parties’ private property.
On a related note, bear in mind that employees have the right to request access to any information held on them, which in this case could include any recordings of them from the CCTV system. Further information on subject access requests can be obtained in our earlier update from October 2016.
If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Seanpaul McCahill.