Hounslow Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 3, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Carol Stiles Tel: 020 8583 2066 or email: carol.stiles@hounslow.gov.uk 

No. Item


Apologies for absence, declarations of interest or any other communications from members


Apologies had been received from Councillor Ajmer Grewal, the Chair, as she was unwell. The Vice Chair, Jane Boyd, took the Chair.


Apologies had also been received from Gavin Mott.


There were no other communications from members and no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 64 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 28 July 2014.


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 28 July 2014 were confirmed, with two amendments; the reference to Jane Boyd as ‘councillor’ on the front sheet and Item 4, page 4, paragraph 3, line 3 – should read ‘an excellent example…’


There were the following matters arising from the minutes:


Item 2, page 1, Matters Arising – Jon Robinson advised that the new Health, Safety and Wellbeing Strategy was circulated to members. The item on the agenda concerning Health and Safety Advice to councillors was about members’ surgeries as well.


Item 3, page 3, paragraph 7: Esther Rey asked about the centralised maintenance service for kitchen equipment in schools and the fact that it had been recommended that this was offered to schools on a buy back basis. She asked whether it was still the case within Tranche 1 of the Budget savings that the buy back service would be stopped. Jon Robinson replied that there would be review of the service in the light of this.


Item 3, page 3, paragraph 10: Esther Rey also asked whether there was any improvement in risk assessment and was informed that this would be picked up with the Performance report.


Item 4, page 4, paragraph 2 : Esther Rey referred to the review of actions in the light of lone working. She asked whether there might be a review of home working as well in the light of the WorkSmart programme and new policies related to this as there would be a health and safety issues in some cases. This would be quite an issue. Jon Robinson advised that they worked with the WorkSmart team. There was already work being done on this issue and this would continue throughout the WorkSmart pilot.


Item 4, page 4, paragraph 3: Councillor McGregor asked whether his suggestion that Mr Robinson should be invited to attend the Audit Committee had been pursued. Mr Robinson confirmed that it had. He was on the email circulation and invited to attend if there were a relevant item on the agenda.


Item 5, page 4, paragraph 8: Jon Robinson updated the Committee on the issue of restraint training for those working with potentially violent children. There was training provided through a Crisis and Agression programme in Children’s and Adults’ Services and there was a sustainable model going forward. Councillor Foote questioned whether this would lead to changing figures in the statistics. He hoped they would see a decrease in incidents. Jon Robinson hoped that from April 2015 onwards there would be quarterly comparisons to track. Councillor Foote’s point was that if there was funding allocated, members needed to be satisfied that this was having an impact and providing a result. Mr Robinson advised that the new performance report should enable progress to be tracked more accurately so that it should be possible to make a comparison by the next meeting.


Item 5, page 4, paragraph 8: Councillor McGregor had raised a point about benchmarking with other authorities. He understood  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Health and Safety General Report pdf icon PDF 121 KB


The Vice Chair in the Chair informed the Committee that she had received a request to take item 3.2 on the agenda first. Councillor McGregor suggested that members would have a better understanding of the present position if they considered the performance report first and then went back to the policy and action points.


Health and Safety Performance Report pdf icon PDF 371 KB


See the Health and Safety Performance Report – April to December 2014 -Agenda Item 3.2.


Jon Robinson explained that the Performance Report showed the performance of indicators against the strategy. For Indicator 1, there had been two minor instances of non compliance for procedural reasons. These results included the Depot and other such areas. So the results were positive.


For Indicator 2, the focus was Children’s and Adults’ Services. The target figures had not yet been met but it was expected that 100% would be achieved by April 2015. Significant work was also being undertaken in Regeneration, Economic Development and Environment department (REDE) in respect of risk assessment, although the figures were not yet 100% accurate.


Councillor Anderson asked whether union representatives were involved with risk assessment, commenting on the importance of the Health and Safety Representatives. Esther Rey clarified that Health and Safety Representatives and the Staff Side Health and Safety Representative were very involved day to day in health and safety issues. There would be ad hoc inspections and report back to Jon Robinson’s team, plus inspections with a member of that team. Where fault was found, they would re-inspect. However, union representatives were not involved directly with risk assessments. They would ask to see relevant risk assessments and had access to a file on the system in Box to view them. Nevertheless this was not ideal as it meant that Staff Side needed to keep checking the file. Luke Kirton explained further that it was not a participative process for union representatives as it would be if union representatives were able to participate at the time the risk assessment was completed and able to ask questions at that stage. Esther Rey advised that Staff Side would rather be prompted when a risk assessment was undertaken rather than having to search for documents. It would be easier if the documents were provided directly to them.


Councillor Tina Howe considered this a sensible approach. Councillor Anderson felt the main point was whether the risk assessment was cascading to where the risk occurred at an operational level. Jane Boyd, in the Chair, explained that all of her team were given the risk assessment and there was regular review. Health and Safety was also a standing item on the Departmental Consultative Committee agenda.


Jon Robinson clarified that the indicator target did not involve risk assessments at the local level of manager but at operational level. However, Councillor Anderson felt that there was not just the matter of risk assessments but also of the use of codes to identify dangerous residents. The Chair advised that it was possible on the Flare database system to alarm items but Esther Rey pointed out that this facility was only on Flare. Not everyone was on the system. Staff might also be taking phone calls and it was important for there to be a system so that staff knew the resident they were dealing with.


Councillor Foote understood the point. The lack of cross referencing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9a


Updated Health and Safety Policy pdf icon PDF 415 KB


See the Health and Safety Policy Report – Agenda Item 3.1 and the Health and Safety General Report – Agenda Item 3.


Jon Robinson introduced the new policy which was based on work undertaken in consultation with departmental representatives and Staff Side via the Health and Safety Management Group. The key part of the policies was that of the roles and responsibilities so people were clear where the responsibilities rested. There were also improvements to reporting and monitoring arrangements and the policy covered the whole Council. Operational details would be developed by individual departments.


Councillor Keith Anderson noted that this covered all of the London Borough of Hounslow but asked whether this included outsourced functions and whether the policy had any sway with organisations such as, for example, the West London Waste Authority. Jon Robinson clarified that it applied to Hounslow Council employees but there was also a section on contracts. He referred to external audits with key partners, for example Hounslow Highways and acknowledged that it was important to check. Councillor Anderson noted that there were Council employees who had transferred under TUPE terms.


Councillor Gerald McGregor referred to page 15 of the agenda pack, Part one, the Health and Safety Policy Statement, and a statement within this that the responsibility also extended to where the Council’s services were delivered by a contractor. He suggested that this might be strengthened to require that the contractor must match or exceed the criteria laid down in the contract. It was important to be clear that contractors were within the framework of reference for the policy.


A number of anomalies had been identified. Councillor McGregor questioned the wording of this statement. It read, ‘ The Corporate Leadership (CLT) and I….’ and was signed by the Chief Executive, but Councillor McGregor suggested that this might be changed to ‘Both I and the CLT are committed..’ He suggested looking at the wording as singular against plural. Members asked whether, as the Chief Executive was part of CLT, the term CLT might stand alone, especially as it was noted that the statement said, ’The CLT will meet our aim..’  Jon Robinson explained that they wanted a clear message that the Chief Executive had a function to support the policy out with the Corporate Leadership Team. Councillor McGregor felt that this might be achieved by including wording to say ‘fully committed’ so that the point was emphasised. Councillor Howe agreed with this.


The Chair noted that members were being asked to recommend adoption to CLT. Jon Robinson confirmed that officers were looking for the approval of the Health and Safety Committee to recommend the policy to CLT for sign off.


Councillor McGregor noted that there were 5 weeks before the launch which was proposed for 1 April 2015.


Luke Kirton referred to paragraph 2.1.9 of the policy at page 23 of the agenda pack concerning Elected Members. He noted that Elected Members had a responsibility to the authority but also a similar role as an employee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9b


Health and Safety Action Plan Update pdf icon PDF 324 KB


See the Corporate Health and Safety Action Plan 2014-15 Update – Agenda Item 3.3


Jon Robinson explained that the Action Plan had been created 12 months ago to track progress and with challenging deadlines and targets. This was a significant process and currently they were in Year 1 of a three year plan. There were specific reviews around risk areas and the Plan did not include the integration of Hounslow Homes. So officers were preparing a new Plan to include integrated work and the work to align processes and systems, particularly so that areas of good practice from Hounslow Homes were taken forward into Hounslow Housing. There was a small advisory team set up to develop this.


Councillor Howe agreed that Hounslow Homes had good practices and Jon Robinson acknowledged that the training of operational staff was good practice amongst Hounslow Homes staff. Councillor Howe commented that this had been an area on which the organisation had worked hard. Jon Robinson clarified that they wished to reinforce this practice and match policies and the practice on the ground. Luke Kirton noted that the move from Hounslow Homes had taken place in January. He believed that HR processes on Discipline and Grievance had been shifted already but he wondered whether it was clear to everyone what rules they were now working under. He asked whether there was still confusion now that the change had been in place for two months. Councillor McGregor commented that regulations would be dependent on the contract but Luke Kirton clarified that his question was not about what rules staff should be under but whether staff on the ground had been told clearly that these were the new rules. He wished to know whether the authority was putting people at risk because of confusion in the transition period. There was a need for clear statements and either the application of the status quo until there was identified change or the instigation of the new rules with training.


Jon Robinson clarified that the clear message was that the status quo remained as the nature of the work was different. This was clear through the management chain. There was significant work required to align the processes but some were not straightforward.


Councillor Keith Anderson was concerned that accidents did not wait for policies to be established. However, he believed that a lot of what was happening flowed from previous processes at the Council so that there was not a fundamental change. Jon Robinson gave examples. There were 500 direct labour staff such as plumbers and other work people who were not in the Council so there was a fundamental difference to what the Council is now. Councillor Anderson wondered whether catch up time had been thought through but Mr Robinson stressed that the status quo in respect of policies would be maintained until staff were notified otherwise. Councillor Foote agreed that this was the only sensible solution as when Hounslow Homes was created the Council was different and had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9c


Hounslow Housing Health and Safety Update


Mr Robinson pointed out that much of this issue had been discussed under the Action Plan update at 3.3 of the agenda.


Councillor Keith Anderson noted that the Committee had discussed six months ago the problem of a person working alone, who had broken the rules and fallen from scaffolding. He asked what recommendations had come from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s report. No one had been made aware of these. Mr Robinson explained that there had been no report or recommendations. The HSE had a new practice to close incidents in two years.


Councillor Anderson questioned whether this meant that the authority had not learnt lessons or offered further training. Jon Robinson confirmed that the Council had acted. Hounslow Homes was responsible at that time and had acted in respect of inspection and training. There was more training on supervision and site specific assessment, for example in respect of working at height. This had been a Hounslow Homes issue and the HSE had been informed.


At Councillor Anderson’s request, Mr Robinson agreed to find the relevant reports and circulate to the Committee.


Personal Safety for Members E-Learning


Jon Robinson reported that there was an E-Learning module on personal safety for members for surgeries. There was a twenty minute refresher training module as a reminder. He would circulate the link for the trial version and would welcome comments as this would be launched in April as part of the Learning Pool.


Luke Kirton pointed out that whilst some members would enjoy such training tools, some would not access them. Councillor Foote suggested taking the item to the Group Secretary and Political Adviser and suggested Councillor McGregor might do the same for his Group to circulate the availability of the training.


Jon Robinson welcomed feedback on the trial. This had been developed in house and so could be amended.


Luke Kirton asked whether there would be similar training for staff who were lone workers, for older workers and engineering workers. Jon Robinson advised that this was in the plan for a general health and safety module. They hoped to roll out the lone working module sooner. Mr Kirton also asked whether there would be analysis of the success of people learning from this module as people learned in different ways. For some people, a workshop approach would be preferable. Mr Robinson explained that E-learning would not replace face to face learning but would be part of a blended approach. Where there was high risk it would be offered face to face. He agreed that it was correct to say that a mix of training styles was needed.  


Urgent Business

Any business accepted by the chair on grounds of urgency.


There was no urgent business.


Date of next meeting : Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 7.30 p.m.


The date of the next meeting was noted as 18 June 2015. (This was subsequently changed to 20 July 2015 to ensure an appropriate spacing between meetings.)