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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting - 7th September 2011

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Legal and Public Protection

 

Health and Safety Enforcement Service Plan 2011/12

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To obtain Cabinet approval for the Council's Health & Safety Enforcement Service Plan 2011/12. 

Recommendations

1.             THAT the Health & Safety Enforcement Service Plan at Appendix 1 be approved.  

2.             THAT the Cabinet Member for Legal & Public Protection in consultation with the Director of Legal, Public Protection & Housing Services be given delegated authority to approve future Health & Safety Enforcement Service Plans.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To ensure the Council has robust arrangements in place to deliver it’s obligations as an enforcing authority under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and comply with statutory guidance.

2.             To speed up the decision making process in relation to the approval of Health & Safety Enforcement Service Plans.

Background

2.             The Vale of Glamorgan Council is an 'enforcing authority' under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and is required by section 18 of the Act to set out its arrangements for discharging that duty.  The Health & Safety Enforcement Service Plan sets out these arrangements.

3.             The Service Plan sets out the resources available to deliver the service, delivery models and links with other partners and stakeholders.  It also details the type and number of interventions to be used. 

4.             The Council's role in Health & Safety enforcement should not be understated with responsibilities ranging from the investigation of workplace accidents and fatalities, the inspection of a wide range of work premises to the safe storage of petrol and fireworks. 

5.             There are approximately 1,900 workplaces in the Vale of Glamorgan in respect of which the Council is the enforcing authority for Health & Safety.  In 2010/11, 118 workplace accidents were reported.  These were investigated in accordance with the Health & Safety Enforcement Service Accident Investigation Policy.  All premises rated as high risk were inspected during the year and 159 service requests were received and responded to.  Enforcement action taken included 225 informal notices, 12 Improvement Notices and 15 Prohibition Notices. 

6.             Project work, agreed on an All Wales basis in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive, forms an important element of enforcement work.  In 2010/11 these projects included Violence and Aggression in small retail businesses,  Bulk LPG Storage and Noise at Work in the Entertainment Sector.  

7.             To reduce the burden of inspection on local businesses and demonstrate improved efficiencies within Public Protection, the use of self- assessment questionnaires is being used for new and lower risk businesses.  Further, Health & Safety planned inspections are, wherever possible, carried out at the same time and by the same officer as food safety and food standards inspections.  This approach is consistent with the recommendations of the government commissioned Hampton Report and is being adopted by an increasing number of local authorities throughout the UK.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.             Local authorities have a duty to produce a Health & Safety Enforcement Service Plan that is endorsed by elected members and makes clear their arrangements for contributing to current Health & Safety Commission priorities. The Plan needs to take account of local needs while addressing national priorities as set out by the Health & Safety Commission in its Strategic Plan.  The Plan must identify both reactive and proactive work and include details of planned promotional and educational activities. For 2011/12 the resource requirements identified in the plan have been met in full.

9.             There are several challenges to the service which need to be faced during the year in the area of resources and service delivery.  The financial difficulties faced by the both the Council and the Health & Safety Executive will require new ways of working to be explored.  Nationally the Health & Safety Executive has lost more than 200 staff and closed a number of area offices.  This means the resources they allocate to partnership working with local authorities will diminish.   Locally, the loss of Operational Manager and Principal Environmental Health Officer posts in Public Protection has reduced the management and operational resource available to deliver the service.  The Council will work with other local authorities in Wales and the Health & Safety Executive to understand how resources can be best managed to deliver the common agenda.   

10.        In 2010, following a review of Health & Safety in the UK, Lord Young made a number of recommendations in his report 'Common Sense, Common Safety' which have been accepted by government.  These include i) regulators providing greater support to small businesses (this is being implemented in the Vale of Glamorgan with workshops being provided for small local businesses e.g. Health & Safety for Tatooists and Body Piercers, ii) a  review of the risk assessment regime and iii) combining food safety inspections and health & safety inspections (already achieved in the Vale of Glamorgan)

11.        Proposals to change workplace accident reporting requirements are likely to come into force during the year which will have an impact on the service.  Reporting after an employee is absent from work for seven days following an incident rather than the current threshold of three days is proposed.

12.        Until this year there have been National Assembly of Wales Performance Indicators for local authority Health & Safety Enforcement Services. This is no longer the case.  The Health & Safety Executive's 'Revitalising Health & Safety Strategy Statement' requires them to work with local authorities to produce a performance indicator against which local authorities' enforcement performance can be measured.  Full compliance with the revised Section 18 Standard has been suggested as an appropriate performance indicator.  During 2011/12 Peer Review audits will be carried out in Wales to assess compliance.  This Council's Health and Safety Service will be audited by officers from Caerphilly Council and Rhondda Cynon Taff will be audited by Vale of Glamorgan Officers.    

13.        Local authorities are required to demonstrate that they have effective routes for communication on Health & Safety enforcement issues with policy & decision makers.  Whilst historically the Health and Safety Enforcement Service Plan has been approved by Cabinet it is proposed that in future the Plan is approved by the Cabinet Member for Legal and Public Protection in consultation with the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

14.        Work to deliver the Health & Safety Enforcement Service Plan will be carried out within existing Public Protection resources. 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.        The Council has a statutory duty to provide a Health & Safety Enforcement service.  Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 section 18(4) all local authorities have a legal duty to make adequate arrangements for the enforcement of statutory provisions and any other duty imposed upon them under the guidance of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC). The guidance issued, commonly known as ‘section 18 guidance’, is mandatory.

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.        None directly arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.        The Health & Safety Enforcement Service Plan provides a basis for open and transparent Health & Safety law enforcement.

Corporate/Service Objectives

18.        The Health and Safety Enforcement Service Plan 2011/12 will contribute to the Corporate Objective of Health, Social Care and Wellbeing - ' To work with partners to meet the diverse needs of our residents in ways that will safeguard and support those who are most vulnerable and in greatest need; help people to keep fit and healthy; and increase social cohesion and equality of opportunity for all.’  It will also contribute toward the following service objective:-

·               To improve the health of citizens and encourage healthy lifestyles.

 

Policy Framework and Budget

19.        This report is consistent with the Council’s Policy Framework and Budget and is a matter for executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

20.        This report is not ward specific.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

21.        Housing and Public Protection

Background Papers

Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974

Section 18 Guidance to Local Authorities, Health and Safety Commission

Common Sense, Common Safety.  Lord Young Report October 2010.

 

Contact Officer

Kate Thompson, Principal Regulatory Services Officer 01446 709356

 

Officers Consulted

Richard Price, Lawyer

Rob Ingram, Principal Accountant

Alun Billinghurst, Head of Public Protection

 

Responsible Officer:

P H Evans, Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services

 

 

 

 

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