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 

Items
No. Item

13.

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

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Gavin Mott, Councillor Tina Howe and Councillor Gerald McGregor. There were no declarations of interest or other communications from members.

14.

Minutes of the meeting held on 26 February 2015 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 26 February 2015 were confirmed.

 

There was the following discussion of important matters arising from the minutes:

 

1. Esther Rey commented that there were issues of general concern. The previous Head of Health and Safety had reduced his working hours to three days per week and had subsequently left the authority. Cathy Day was present here but was an interim appointment. Esther Rey explained that she would normally attend Health and Safety management meetings but none had been held so six months on from the last meeting she was not sure whether the actions agreed had been taken. She was concerned since the Committee only met twice per year and by the time of its next meeting there would be a new Head of Health and Safety. She was anxious to establish whether the Committee had a purpose or was merely paying lip service to the issues, since the lack of continuity made it unclear whether the actions agreed at this Committee were progressed.

 

Councillor Keith Anderson understood the point but felt that a greater concern was whether or not meetings were happening further down the management line. Policies could be agreed and established but if they were not being implemented within the organisation the Council was leaving itself open to dangers. The Chair agreed that this was a very important point since this Committee was not the level at which the implementation was happening.

 

Cathy Day, Interim Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing, advised that departmental meetings were taking place but Ms Rey clarified that she was referring to the management meeting of all Directorates. This was an important forum for Staff Side to be able to feedback to this Committee, but currently there had been no union involvement to feedback. Yet there were a lot of issues which had been identified in the minutes and Ms Rey questioned how it was possible to ask what had happened.

 

Similarly, an email had been sent in April concerning the fire evacuation on 17 April. Councillors Anderson and Foote were aware of the concerns about that evacuation. There was still no reply from the working group in July. Esther Rey stressed the need to be clear on actions being followed up. Otherwise the Committee served no purpose.

 

Cathy Day clarified that she had been in post a month and in that time she had been invited to four Health and Safety meetings in Hounslow Highways, Housing and REDE. She did not know whether the Head of Health and Safety was normally invited but it was confirmed that this was usual.

 

Councillor Richard Foote picked up on the fire event. He understood it resulted from fire in a lift shaft but it took a long time for the fire engines to arrive. He had been told that although there was an automatic alarm to the fire station, the response had not been immediate as there was discussion amongst officers in Hounslow about whether the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Health and Safety Report - summary of gap analysis, performance report, and general health and safety update pdf icon PDF 247 KB

Minutes:

See the report by the Interim Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing – Agenda Item 3.

 

The Chair advised that the report was intended to give members a picture of the current position and where they might move forward. There were three sections to the item with appendices for each section.

 

 

15a

Gap Analysis Summary - Appendix A pdf icon PDF 197 KB

Minutes:

In introducing the item, the Chair explained that the analysis sought to identify what areas were satisfactory and what needed improvement.

 

Cathy Day, Interim Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing, wished to reassure members that having come in new to the authority she had felt it appropriate to undertake a gap analysis against the Council’s adopted management system which was the general system used for this purpose. There had been detailed research to delve into the information and the analysis represented what had been identified so far. The report provided a summary of the key points as the full analysis was a huge document. She had undertaken the research and findings based on her experience and pointed out that the new permanent Head of service would start shortly.

 

Councillor Foote asked whether this meant that in Ms Day’s opinion she was detailing the worse side. Cathy Day confirmed that this was the case as it was better to look at the worse case scenario. That way nothing was missed.

 

The Chair asked if this information could be used to develop an Action Plan and was advised that had been done. The Action Plan was not yet ‘Smart’ because Cathy Day was not the permanent post holder, but it could be made ‘Smart’. It identified the actions needed to be taken and the team were starting to address the more serious issues. The Chair noted, for example, that improvements in fire safety arrangements were not ones that the authority would wish to wait for.

 

 

 

 

15b

Health and Safety Performance Report - January - June 2015 - Appendix B pdf icon PDF 471 KB

Minutes:

The second part of the report considered Health and Safety performance from January to June 2015.

 

Cathy Day explained that the report members normally received needed to be reviewed and it was timely to do so. The targets were blanket ones.

 

The Chair asked whether this included a review of the performance indicators (PIs) and targets and Cathy Day explained that it was prudent to make the indicators more measurable and associate risks with the targets.

 

Esther Rey pointed out that the previous minutes showed a request from Luke Kirton to provide more information on the major and 7 day accidents, by way of a footnote to explain what happened, what had been done to put the matter right and lessons learned.

 

Councillor Foote understood the need for a commentary where this would not be recorded elsewhere. Cathy Day referred members to the explanation at page 14 of the report. IT software was being updated so that this information could be given. It would be put into the main report once the software was updated so the information would be available.

 

The Chair suggested that once this was done members might see what it looked like and Cathy Day advised that members should see patterns in the information.

 

Jane Boyd referred to page 23 of the report and the expectations with regard to Risk Assessments which seemed low. Esther Rey suggested that there should be ‘naming and shaming’ where Risk Assessments were not returned or perhaps a ‘three strikes and out’ approach; something which made it more prominent when an assessment was not returned.

 

Cathy Day approached the matter from a different angle. She suggested that for a department such as Chief Executive’s she would not expect many risk assessments as there was not high risk. However, there was high risk in other departments. The expectation should be for a number of assessments where the risk was high.

 

The Chair suggested that this should form part of the review. She recognised that there was a need to know where there was a problem rather than simple numbers of assessments. Councillor Foote agreed and noted the significance of Adult and Children’s Services where he would expect the risk to be higher.

 

Cathy Day advised that there were two issues. If one aspect was clarified, there needed to be an understanding of what they would expect to see from the data. Then they could identify if there was a problem. At the moment they would not know if there was a problem as this was hidden.

15c

Health and Safety General Update - Appendices C-D pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cathy Day clarified that incident reporting had been upgraded. They needed to integrate Hounslow Housing and then would move to a new system. There was the start of a push to improve risk assessment. In regard to Internal Audit, templates were being reviewed so that a single template would be used for all. This would enable more to be done in less time. A rating would also be included on the template. Otherwise it was not possible to know if the position was acceptable. This was all about performance and continual improvement. There was a need to measure so there needed to be some order brought into audits. An Audit programme was being established so that it was clear when an audit was due. This would include Hounslow Housing as the programme moved forward.

 

The Chair commented on policy updates. There seemed to be a gap in the report as a large number required updating. She suggested that to reflect updates in legislation was the priority. Cathy Day showed members the template she had developed. There was still work to do on the layout which Communications would look at but the approach was to have bullet points getting straight to the point rather than including lots of wording about the background and legislation. The important point to establish in the policy was who would do what. The policy template did not reflect every item of the legislation but instead picked out the salient points which everyone needed to know.

 

Cathy Day explained that she had always written policies in this format and asked whether members preferred it.

 

Councillor Anderson liked the setting out of ‘do’s and don’ts’ which was to the point. The Chair agreed that it was important that the document was not too long so that people did read it. Bullet points and clarity about the responsibilities were important. Councillor Foote agreed with this.

 

Cathy Day pointed out that the second advantage of this approach was that a policy could be produced and reviewed quickly. They tended to be read and it was possible to segment a larger subject. For example, fire safety would be sub divided.

 

The Chair noted that members were in agreement that this was a format they liked. She understood a few policies had been drafted and the team were working on others. Esther Rey advised that Staff Side had not seen any but Ms Day confirmed that the policies were currently still with the Health and Safety team. Using this template involved a culture change and they were working through the policies. Once there was agreement from the team, the templates could be shared.

 

Esther Rey stressed the need to look at the Home Working policy in the light of the WorkSmart project as the trial was already underway. There were no agreed policies in respect of the WorkSmart programme. There had been a meeting recently and one of the Health and Safety team was looking at this issue.

 

There were also concerns  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15c

16.

Urgent Business

Any business accepted by the chair on grounds of urgency.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

17.

Date of next meeting: Monday, 18 January 2016

Minutes:

Members noted that the next meeting was scheduled for Monday, 18 January 2016. Councillor Foote advised that he might be away.

 

Esther Rey raised concerns about the six month gap between meetings and the need for confidence that actions were being progressed and that the Committee was effective in getting work done. She suggested reviewing whether the Committee should meet sooner than January or whether there might be a mechanism for calling an emergency meeting. She was conscious that in six months time there would be a new Health and Safety Officer. With changes of personnel there was a concern that action points requested might not have been taken.

 

The Chair proposed that once the new Health and Safety Officer was in post it would be useful for her as Chair and Esther Rey as Staff Side Secretary to meet with the new person. Councillor Foote considered that it was not about individuals but about policies moving forward. The Committee discussed when Cathy Day’s contract would finish and although this was not confirmed it was expected to be around September/October. In the particular circumstances, Councillor Foote wondered whether it might be appropriate to schedule an extra meeting in November and then move the January meeting back to March. It was confirmed that the Chair had the authority to call an extra meeting.

 

The Chair proposed waiting until the new Health and Safety Officer was in post and then organising a meeting around November. Cathy Day reassured members that the processes being put in place were sound health and safety management so she would not expect major change by the new person and would expect continuity. However, members noted that there were issues of concern, such as the fire policy.

 

Resolved:

 

  1. That members noted the need for them to ensure actions from the Committee were being progressed might require more regular meeting that every six months, especially in a period of officer transition.
  2. That the Chair and Staff Side Secretary would aim to meet with the new Health and Safety Officer once in post.
  3. That following this, the Committee would look to meet again around November 2015.