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Agency breaches health & safety rules


THE ENVIRONMENT Agency has been found to have breached health & safety legislation in its management of a 'stressed' civil engineer, NCE has learned.

The Agency was in breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations in its treatment of flood defence engineer Michael Ryan between 1992 and 1997.

Ryan, 50, suffered a 10 month breakdown in 1992/93 while working for the then National Rivers Authority, and broke down again when working for the Environment Agency in 1997. He claimed that 'bullying management' and 'understaffing' of his section without prioritising of workload had contributed to stress related depression. Ryan has not worked since 1997 and the Agency gave him three months notice of termination of his employment in October 1998.

Investigating officer for Shrewsbury & Atcham council Andrew Goldsmith has written to the Agency asking it to change working practices and develop a policy on stress for all staff.

Agency Upper Severn Area manager Steve Morely said in a recent letter to Ryan: 'There are a number of areas in which Mr Goldsmith seeks improvement. Most, if not all, of these areas are in the process of being addressed already. We naturally intend to comply fully with Mr Goldsmith's recommendations and already have a meeting arranged to make him aware of our progress and discuss future actions.'

Ryan said he expected to reach a financial settlement with the Environment Agency soon, compensating him for loss of earnings.

But an Environment Agency spokesman said: 'We have since provided extra information to Mr Goldsmith that he did not have when the decision was made.'

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