The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently completed an audit of the health and safety management systems within Wrexham Council to assess how well health and safety was being managed.
The audit, which was carried out in partnership with the council, followed the HSE’s successful prosecution of the Council in October 2017 for a failure to assess and control the risks to the health of employees from vibration.
Wrexham Council was fined £150,000 and paid £10,900 costs to the HSE after staff using machinery were affected by hand-arm vibration syndrome, despite polices in place aimed to prevent it.
In its report, the HSE commented that: “It was evident that, following the prosecution, WCBC have communicated a desire to manage health and safety effectively, with strong leadership and increasing levels of consultation with employees.
“All of the staff interviewed expressed a desire to achieve these goals and were aware of their own, job specific health and safety responsibilities.”
However, the audit also identified a number of contraventions of health and safety law and the HSE has issued the council with a Notice of Contraventions letter which explains what was wrong, why it was wrong and what the local authority needs to do to put things right.
The council must ensure that the identified actions are addressed and the HSE will monitor progress with a view to completion in the next 24 months.
Councillor Mark Pritchard, Lead Member for Organisation – Finance, Performance, Health and Safety and Governance, said: “Both the Chief Executive and I recognise the Council’s statutory duty to comply with the requirements of health and safety law and we accept the findings of the HSE’s report.
“The identified breaches are in the process of being rectified and Corporate Health & Safety will undertake reviews in three months to ensure these have been addressed.
“The Chief Executive will monitor that all actions are implemented effectively within the agreed timescale set by the HSE.
“We acknowledge that the HSE have identified some contraventions with health and safety law but they also recognised our firm commitment to improve health and safety performance including a number of positive actions that we have put in place to strengthen the Council’s safety management system.
“For example we have already reviewed the senior management structure and revised certain Health and Safety arrangements with a view to a long-term improvement in health and safety management.
“It is recognised that the Council is taking the right steps to improve performance but that it needs to continue to ensure a sustained focus in embedding the necessary health and safety culture throughout the organisation’.
“We have both given a firm commitment to improve health and safety performance through strong leadership and increasing levels of consultation with employees.
“Over 600 staff recently attended the Chief Executive’s “Moving Forward Together” employee briefings and these are a positive sign that consultation with employees is being taken seriously.
“We are continuing to work to address these areas both in terms of the overall Health & Safety Governance Framework and the operational roles and responsibilities of individual employees and this is already making a positive difference to the management of health and safety across the Council.
“We recognise that we have further work to do and we will use the recommendations in the HSE’s report to further strengthen health and safety performance including redrafting our Health & Safety Policy.
“This was scheduled to be considered by the Executive Board on 9 July 2019, but we have now deferred this until 10 September 2019 to ensure that we can fully reflect the findings and actions identified in the HSE’s report.”
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