Agenda item

Health, Safety and Wellbeing Performance Annual Report 2017/18

Report of the Director of Strategy, Governance and Change.


The Council’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager provided the Committee with an overview and insight into the Health, Safety and Wellbeing performance of the County Council during 2017/18 together with the work plan to improve performance and develop further the Council’s approach and culture towards health, safety and wellbeing management.


Members noted that the key successes during 2017/18 included:


·        The development and launch of the new My Health and Safety system to schools and Core County in March 2018.

·        The support provided in respect of the health and safety aspects of the workforce move into Castle House, Newcastle and Stafford Civic Centre.

·        The development of a report for SLT regarding possible actions to maintain and strengthen fire safety within Staffordshire County Council’s property portfolio.  (Following this report H&S advisors completed fire safety inspections at all residential properties, properties accessed by vulnerable individuals and all premises with 3 or more storeys).

·        The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service had maintained its diverse training programme to meet the organisation’s statutory training needs.

·        Completed two wellbeing events.

·        Developed and launched Stay Safe Terrorism guidance incorporating government best practise guidance into working arrangements.

·        Completed 70 School and 14 Core Council audits of services to review their health and safety management arrangements and develop improvement plans.

·        Completed 92 health and safety planning meetings with schools who purchased the Additional Service Level Agreement to allow them to identify key risk gaps and develop management plans to improve their health, safety and wellbeing performance.

·        Completed audit reviews at construction sites of Staffordshire County council framework contractors regarding their health and safety standards.

·        Implemented changes to the management of ionizing radiation following changes to the statutory requirement which came into effect from January 2018.

·        Responded to and managed several emergency situations and serious incidents during 2017/18.


With regard to Service Level Agreements, the Committee were informed that 99% of maintained schools purchased the health and safety service during 2017/18 with just 2 schools seeking other provision.


The Committee were also informed that absence within the core county council was now at 10.8 days per employee which was an increase of 12% from last year. This level of absence was higher than the national average for the public sector which was benchmarked in 2017 at 8.5 days. Increases were seen across all main categories of absence with psychological reasons remaining the leading cause of absence for the organisation. The national trend was for increasing psychological absences across the public sector. The proportion of long term absence had increased slightly. Managers continued to use referrals to wellbeing service to assist in the prevention and management of absence.


Between 1st April 2017 – 31st March 2018, 418 employees had been referred to the physiotherapy service in order to prevent absence and, where they were absent, to support early return to work; and 332 employees had been referred to ThinkWell.  Colleagues supported by ThinkWell showed after treatment a 98% improvement/recovery, 94% of colleagues accessing the service described the support as helpful or extremely helpful and 95% of Managers felt the service helped them support employees.


In response to a question from Mr C. Greatorex concerning whether any particular service area(s) had higher levels of sickness absence, the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager indicated that frontline services in Health and Social Care and in Families and Communities tended to exhibit higher sickness absence levels.  She added that the Health and Safety team was working with Managers in those service areas and was also providing targeted training.


Flu vaccination was offered to colleagues where agreed with their manager to support continued delivery of services and the NHS flu vaccination campaign. 219 vouchers were supplied to frontline workers in core council and over 400 to school colleagues.


In response to increasing levels of psychological absence, the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service researched and designed a proposed workforce mental health strategy to support the organisation to better understand and manage the impact of mental health in the workforce. The 3-year strategy was approved in April 2018 and implemented in October 2018. The aim of the strategy was to make the whole workforce mental health aware, improve manager’s knowledge and skills, improve the culture and reduce stigma in workplace. This should lead to employees becoming more self-aware, preventatively looking after their own mental health and seeking help early to reduce the level of psychological absence experienced.


During 2017/18 84 health and safety audits were completed by the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service.  With regard to accidents and violence, recent data had shown that accidents and violence to employees had decreased. Reportable incidents to the HSE had also decreased. The council’s AIR (Accident Incident Rate) indicator also showed a decrease compared with last year. As schools converted to academies the profile of incidents was changing; however, the AIR rate indicated an improvement in performance.  In response to a question from Mrs Woodward as to what constituted a “violent” incident, the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager indicated that this ranged from verbal abuse through to assault and also included stalking and challenging behaviour.  The Chairman referred to the decrease in the number of accidents and indicated that this could, in some part, be due to the downsizing of the Council’s workforce and the externalisation of services.  In response, the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager indicated that the reduction in the size of the workforce had led to a reduction in the number of accidents but data had also shown that the rates were showing a downward trend.


The Committee were also informed that the Health and Safety Advisors had continued to investigate the more serious accidents and encourage Operational Managers to investigate all accidents. There had been several accidents and incidents in schools and core council activities which could have had more serious outcomes. The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service had investigated these incidents and helped the services and schools implement improved control measures. There had also been a couple of incidents of significant nature in our supply chain of providers and the Health and Safety Team had been involved in investigations and in sharing and taking the learning outcomes forward. Input into these incidents would remain ongoing into 2018/19.  The HSE has requested information and investigation reports on some of the RIDDOR reportable accidents, and no further action had been taken as they were satisfied with the team’s investigations.  In response to a question from Mr Ward in relation to the reduction in RIDDOR reportable accidents, the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager indicated that the Health and Safety Team had recently focussed activity on working with schools to reduce the number of accidents from sporting activities.


With regard to liability claims, there had been no significant developments in terms of claim numbers, although early indications were that claim frequency for policy year 2017 was declining (although claimants had up to 3 years after the accident within which to claim).


It was noted that health and safety performance had continued to improve in the last twelve months. The development of the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service was allowing the council to focus its competent health and safety advice proactively in services that presented the greatest risk and/or where the health and safety management arrangements required development. The 2018/19 action plan would assist the council to make further improvements and further develop its positive health and safety culture.


In response to a question from Mr Williams concerning asbestos in schools, the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager indicated that asbestos probably existed in around 80% of Staffordshire schools and that the appropriate registration and monitoring mechanisms were in place.


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received.


(b) That the 2018/19 Work Plan be agreed.

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