I am delighted to have taken over the reins from Phil Scott as HSE's senior 'champion' for the Partnership, and on behalf of us all, I would like to thank him for the enthusiasm and skill with which he has steered the programme over the last four years and the strong position he has left it in.
Furthering the Partnership, and firmly establishing it as the way we do business, has my total commitment as well. Coming from an operational background (I joined HSE as an inspector over 30 years ago) and having had opportunities to work with Local Authority colleagues over many years, I know how big the gains for health and safety can be, both nationally and locally, when we work together to the same set of priorities and agenda. This is borne out by the findings of the recent independent evaluation of the Partnership. This describes a step change in the relationship between HSE and the LAs and the way in which improvements in health and safety have been delivered through greater consistency, concentration of collective effort on areas of highest risk and the impact which comes from joint working, communications and co-ordination. The evaluation concludes that the Partnership is in good health, although there is still plenty of work yet to do, and I am very pleased to be working with you to help it continue to flourish and grow.
We are entering exciting times, with the development of the new strategy for health and safety, consolidation and embedding of the Section 18 standard, articulation of regulator competencies, forging of working relationships with the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO),and most of all, with the innovative and effective work which is being delivered in partnership 'at the sharp end'. I would like to thank all who are working so hard and with such dedication to support these ends - too numerous and extensive to mention here, which perhaps speaks for itself.
My 'other' job is as HSE's Regional Director for the Midlands but at the end of October. I will be moving across to head the Injury Reduction programme for the next few months. This will provide a different but equally important 'fit' with the partnership work. Meanwhile, I will look forward to seeing many of you at our forthcoming conference in Manchester.
On 1 October, HSE launched a new free web-based toolkit on work-related violence. The toolkit has been produced by Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) in partnership with Westminster City Council and LACORS.
The toolkit brings together many different examples of good practice and advice on the topic in the sectors. It is aimed at large employers with retail and / or licensed premises. A summary leaflet for small and medium sized enterprises is available in hard copy (from HSE books) or to download. HSE has sent out 100 copies of this summary leaflet to Chief Environmental Health Officers at each local authority.
A Local Authority Circular (LAC) making clear that the toolkit is intended to help employers to tackle the issue, and should not be seen as an enforcement checklist will be placed on the HSE/LAU website in due course.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007) are now the main health and safety legislation for the construction industry. They require measures to be taken to control risks on site, and to control construction risks that may arise from the procurement and design process. In the majority of cases, HSE retains the responsibility for enforcing the regulations. However, Local Authorities are now able to enforce the CDM 2007 in some circumstances and promote safer and healthier construction-related working practices in many circumstances.
The Local Authority Construction Engagement Project (LACE) was initiated, in part, to engage LAs in the drive to improve construction industry health and safety. LACE aims to encourage Local Authority departments to act as "eyes and ears" for construction poor practice, to advance best practice and to disseminate construction health and safety information to a range of people. Councils’ procurement officers, health and safety inspectors, planners, building control officers, highways officers and trading standards officers are all (singly and in a seamless, cohesive manner) in a prime position to promote improvements in health and safety in the construction industry (and beyond!) through their involvement with clients, designers, builders and allied trades people.
Background material, suggested template letters, template information for LA websites (with links to specially designed HSE information pages), case studies and feedback forms are now available from HELex.
Ms. Sylwia Pazdziorki-Tokarz, Community Warden employed by Slough Borough Council & Mr Andrzej Ostapko, Website Designer
Slough Borough Council have recently provided health and safety information for Polish workers on a new community website. The website will promote the health and safety message to migrant workers and links directly to HSE polish translated material.
Thomas Kilduff, senior environmental health officer for Slough Borough Council, said: "This site is a fantastic resource for the Polish community, and we’re pleased to be able to provide vital information that can be easily accessed.
As part of the HSE Revitalising Strategy, we’re working with partnership agencies and voluntary and community groups to identify and safeguard vulnerable and high risk groups.
We identified Slough as having a high percentage of migrant workers, most notably from Poland, and felt the council could reach these residents by providing information on the site.
It also has links to HSE online, with crucial information on slips and trips, manual handling and preventing falls from heights."
Partnership working in the South West received a boost in September with confirmation from both HSE and Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) for funding of innovative projects across the region.
LBRO is making funding available to support the work being coordinated by the South West Regulators Forum (SWeRF) aiming at better regulation outcomes by joining up the working of all of the local and central government regulators in LBRO scope. We need to match the LBRO funding with locally sourced cash to give the work the support we really want, so readers will have to watch this space for developments.
In further recognition of the aims of SWeRF, HSE is to provide funding to create a small project team looking to achieve Better Regulation in Food sector activities amongst regulators and businesses across the South West. The team will work with stakeholders to implement sustainable arrangements securing better regulatory outcomes.
HSE is also putting funding into support for a project looking to explore what benefits to health and safety regulation arise if all the administrative boundaries, between HSE and LAs and between district and unitary authorities, are removed. The project will build on the experience in many authorities with flexible warrants to build an approach we are calling Health and Safety Team Dorset.
A key aim of the Disease Reduction Programme is to reduce the number of new cases of occupational asthma caused by flour dust by encouraging good working practices in bakeries. Flour dust can cause irritation to eyes and nose, occupational dermatitis and occupational asthma. Local Authorities (LAs) have been involved already in work to improve controls in small bakeries and in-store supermarket bakeries and a benchmark standard was produced earlier this year in partnership with LAs and supermarkets.
HSE is now planning to publish a non verbal (picture) pocket card for bakers to reinforce the key message that making simple changes to working practices can greatly reduce exposure to flour dust. We would welcome involvement from LAs to give an Environmental Health Officer’s perspective and to ensure the messages are appropriate for small and supermarket bakeries.
HSE has welcomed the recent formation of a specialist division in Scotland for the investigation and prosecution of all cases it reports to the Procurator Fiscal.
The following Health and Safety related courses may be of interest to you: