Agenda item

Health and Safety Update

This matter is the responsibility of the Portfolio Holder for Communications and Corporate Resources, Cllr Benet Allen.


Report Authors: Sean Papworth, Assistant Director Corporate Services and Mike Barter, Health and Safety Business Partner.


The purpose of this report is to provide the Committee with progress updates on the Health and Safety Performance Framework and delivery of the Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) Improvement Programme.



Sean Papworth, Assistant Director – Corporate presented the report:

·       The quarterly report covers performance and the programme that has been running for the last 18 months.

·       In terms of the programme every work-stream and project has been completed and the programme will be wrapped up once assurance has been completed in respect of the original audits. A desktop exercise is underway to complete the assurance piece of work and to collate appropriate evidence.

·       Lone working continues to be reviewed and additional devices have been rolled out to staff for additional safety.  This will continue to be reviewed to ensure that all staff that need devices get them.

·       The Health and Safety Team continue to carry out inspections across the work that we do, and this will continue going forward.  The focus at the moment is around contractors as the data continues to suggest that’s the area where attention is needed.

·       The Health and Safety Team and Human Resources Team are working to ensure that the data around our people is being reviewed to identify any themes or trends, and that they are picked up and dealt with accordingly.

·       The performance report on page 138, in 2022/23 there should be a total of 98 accidents listed in the table.  The trend is seeing a lot more reporting in terms of near misses. Also seeing a slight increase in accidents but for the most part they are very minor accidents that might have gone unreported in the past. The improvement in reporting allows officers to start picking up any themes in the data.


During the debate, discussion took place around:

·       What the term fracture (MOP) meant on Page 138. The officer confirmed that MOP means member of the public.

·       Where the responsibility lies in terms health and safety in terms of contractors and whether it depends on the type of work that they are doing.  Officers confirmed that it varies dependent on the size and duration of the work. The focus has been on the fundamentals to understand as much as possible about our contractors such as whether they have the right health and safety systems in place, do they have documentation to prove they are paying attention to their health and safety and do they have the right insurance in place. This information is then input into our systems to keep track on whether the contractors are keeping their information up to date. A piece of work has been completed on risk assessments to ensure they are thinking ahead and that work isn’t starting before risk assessments have been completed. Officers can review and challenge risk assessments from contractors when they are received. Work being carried out on our behalf by contractors is still a risk so inspections will continue to focus on the paperwork and ensuring that what they are doing on the ground matches what they say they are going to do in their paperwork.

·       How health and safety arrangements will transition across to the new Somerset Council, particularly the Housing Service.  Officers confirmed that there will be a number of new policies for the Council. Housing is one of the key areas of focus, and that work will continue through the work of officers and the Health and Safety Business Partners.

·       Whether there was assurance that health and safety will have adequate coverage during the transition stage to ensure that items are passed over and don’t fall through the net.  Officers confirmed that the good work that has been completed over the last 18 months will not stop because we are getting to vesting day. Work will continue to improve areas such as contractor inspections.  Toolbox talks for staff are being rolled out, as well as dynamic risk assessments which can be completed when officers get to a job rather than having to do it beforehand or not completing it. Everything will continue as the same people will be doing the same jobs with broadly the same management in place. Work will carry on with the existing programme, performance and health and safety governance until a new process is in place. Once the new arrangements are in place there will be a further transitionary period.

·       What the situation would be from a legality perspective if work is happening under Somerset Council but the arrangements are going to be operating under existing SWT arrangements.  Officers confirmed that the work will be undertaken in all respects by the new council. The assets, contracts will be novated, the staff will be employees of, and the legal duties will all fall to the new Somerset Council. What happens on a day to day basis and operationally will be continuing with systems and governance and procedures that allow that work to continue, and continue in a safe fashion. This does not affect the legality as the duty and responsibility falls to the new council and its employees. The processes they work to will continue for a period until new processes are brought to bear.

·       The lack of reference to Member in terms of lone working and that Member lone working should be included in the policy, as it is just as important for Members as it is for staff. Officers confirmed that this will be followed up with colleagues in the Democratic Services Team at Somerset Council to ensure appropriate arrangements are put in place for Members.  Officers also confirmed that a risk assessment and guidance pack was put together and sent to all members previously as well as information sent out to all Members on 29March 2022.

·       It was highlighted that at a recent SCC Council meeting there was a motion passed on debate not hate which demonstrates that the new council are very aware of the issues faced by Members and the need to ensure that democracy is taken forward without negatively impacting on individuals.


Councillors thanked Sean Papworth and James Barrah for their work on health and safety.


The committee RESOLVED to note and endorse:

A) the H & S Performance Scorecard data, together with the observations/recommendations/conclusive summary (appendix A)

B) the HSMS Improvement Programme progress update (detailed in section 4.4)


(proposed by Cllr Janet Lloyd, seconded Cllr Simon Coles)


Supporting documents: