CONTENTS

PART 1

1 INTRODUCTION - Description of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service  
  - Background  
  - Management Inspection Methodology  
  - Management Inspection Report Structure  
  - The Way Forward  
  - Acknowledgments  

2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

PART 11- MANAGEMENT SYSTEM KEY ELEMENTS

3. POLICY

4. ORGANISING - Control  
  - Communication  
  - Co-operation  
  - Competence  

5: PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTING

 

6. MEASURING PERFORMANCE - Active monitoring  
  - Reactive monitoring  

7. REVIEWING AND AUDITING

PART 111- CONCLUSIONS

8. RECOMMENDATIONS

PART 1

1 INTRODUCTION

Description of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service [top]

2a). Merseyside is a metropolitan area having a resident population of approximately 1.5m, with the main centres of population in Liverpool, Birkenhead and the Wirral, Southport, and St. Helens. The area has a wide mixture of industries including an extensive dock system.

2b ). The Fire Authority for the area is Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority , which provides fire safety services and operational fire cover through Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service. For operational reasons the area is split into three zones with twenty five fire stations providing cover for these zones and with over 1700 employees.

2c). The Fire Service operates a fully functional training centre which has recently been completely upgraded and is able to provide training for other Fire Services including those operated privately.

Background [top]

3. This Health and Safety Report on Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is based on a management inspection carried out by Health and Safety Executive Inspectors in September 2000. The Inspection of health and safety management arrangements was carried out as part of a national programme to inspect all Fire Services who provide fire safety services and operational fire cover for a Fire and Civil Defence Authority.

4. The analysis of detailed information, provided by the Fire Service enabled an objective assessment of standards within the Fire Service and the main areas requiring action to be identified. This was supported by the inspection team assessing selected aspects of health and safety management within the Fire Service.

5. The rationale of this report is to stimulate the Fire Service to examine and develop its management strategies, so that a continual improvement in its overall health and safety performance can be achieved, thus ensuring that significant risks are reduced or controlled as far as is reasonably practicable.

6. The inspection did look at all areas of activity. Those points in the report detailing the team's assessment of those activities selected, should be seen as indicators of the Fire Service's overall performance and as evidence to strengthen the main action points.

7. The objectives of the management inspection were:

I ) To assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Fire Service's arrangements for managing health and safety.

ii) To report the findings and make recommendations for improvements.

8. The purpose of the management inspection was to assess the Fire Service's overall Compliance with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and in particular compliance with the requirements of Regulation 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This requires every employer to II make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate: having regard to the nature of his activities and the size of his undertaking, for effective planning, organisation, control and monitoring and review of ( their) preventative and protective measures".

9. The effect of these requirements means that organisations need to set up management control loops to ensure that health and safety requirements are being followed and improvements are encouraged. It is important to distinguish between the day to day requirements of the Fire Service to ensure compliance with health and safety procedures, and the Service's wider arrangements for assuring effective health and safety management. The HSE management inspection team were particularly interested to see how the Fire Service was assuring effective health and safety management, together with the compliance of staff, especially operational staff who face the greatest risks, with the Fire Service and Home Office procedures and the robustness and adequacy of the procedures.

10. There has often been an assumption by some organisations that by simply delegating the day to day implementation of health and safety matters to divisional or departmental managers that health and safety is being satisfactorily managed. It is also often assumed that because there may be a company safety adviser and Safety Committee that good health and safety standards are being achieved. However, as in any other strategic area of an organisation's operations, close monitoring by an independent section is required to ensure the needs of the organisation is being met.

11. The effective management of health and safety requires organisations to identify the basic fundamentals and to create a management structure where health and safety starts with the top management planning, organising, controlling and monitoring and flows through the management structure to those areas and personnel who deal with health and safety on a daily basis.

12. This should lead larger organisations to develop a strategic health and safety management group who have powers to set priorities and produce and monitor the implementation of action plans. Policies and procedures.

13. This strategic structure has to be set against the requirements to ensure that the set policy is put into action, that the operation of policies, risk assessments, and preventative measures takes place and in the manner intended. This means that senior operational staff need to effectively monitor that operational procedures are in fact being followed by their staff and operational difficulties are brought to the attention of the strategic management group forming the policies.

14. It is increasingly accepted by organisations that effective management of health and safety is not only a legal requirement, but is also cost effective in its reduction of accidents, ill health and material losses. It is essentially about good management and the same principles apply as to other aspects of management,

Management Inspection Methodology [top]

15. The health and safety management arrangements for the Fire Service were examined on a sample basis. This began with the identification and collection of relevant documentation to be examined, which in turn allowed personnel to be identified who had key roles in managing health and safety at different levels of the Fire Service, and then interviewing those persons to ascertain how they carried out their role. Finally, the actual conditions pertaining and the practices taking place were inspected.

16. Initial feedback was given to staff at the end of the visit.

Management Inspection Report structure [top]

17. Following the Introduction and Executive Summary the main body of this report is structured in chapters addressing each of the management system key elements Described in the HSE publication HS(G)65, II Successful Health and Safety Management ".

18. Each chapter is arranged !n three parts covering what was looked for, what was found and recommendations. All recommendations are brought together in a concluding chapter for convenience.

19. The chapter on organisation is arranged in four parts ( as in HS(G)65 -control, communication, co-operation and competence), each of which is subdivided as in paragraph 18 above. The chapter on measuring performance is similarly divided into proactive and reactive monitoring.

20. Within the text of the report and the interview process we will have raised other ideas and suggestions for improvement which should be examined and actioned as necessary.

The Way Forward [top]

21. Following the Fire Service's appraisal of the management report findings, the Service should produce an Action Plan to address the main recommendations made. The Action Plan should be presented to the HSE by 1 February 2001.

Acknowledgments [top]

22. The HSE team would like to thank the Fire Service employees for their help, co-operation and positive approach during the audit. The HSE team hopes that this report will assist the Fire Service in meeting its responsibilities under health and safety legislation.

2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY [top]

23. The HSE inspection team were impressed with the level of commitment to health and safety found throughout the Fire service. All persons spoken to had a very positive attitude and were willing to work together to ensure high standards were obtained and accidents reduced.

24. The Fire Service had a good Corporate Health and Safety Policy which clearly set out the Fire Service's policy and the organisation and arrangements for ensuring health and safety and clearly set out individual responsibilities.

25. The Fire Service had put in place a team to produce a Risk Assessment Strategy and a Risk Assessment Project Team to produce a risk assessment guidance booklet I and to train all uniformed staff. It had also produced a dynamic risk assessment document "At The Sharp End " and guidance for the assessment of workplaces.

26. It was found that safety representatives did not take part in the completion of risk assessments. The Fire Service should encourage greater involvement of the safety reps at the beginning of the risk assessment process.

27. There was a Fire Service health and safety team with attached welfare and occupational health units. The team provided expertise for the Service in health and safety matters and correlated accidents into an annual report. The HSE were concerned that accident statistics appeared to provide the main drive for some health and safety matters and would like to see the annual report broadened to take into account other health and safety matters and to set targets for the following year. These can include training, stress, and violence.

28. We found that officers at all levels fully accepted their responsibility for health and safety as laid out in the Corporate Safety Policy. However, there appeared to be little evidence of the monitoring of health and safety performance of individuals since targets were not set in personal work plans and annual reviews did not take place.

It is recommended that health and safety targets, that are measurable, are set for individuals annually.

29. The Fire Service has a five year plan on reducing deaths in the community which should also reduce accidents to members of the public and to fire officers attending a call and is looking at other ways of reducing vehicle accidents.

30. There is a written policy on violence which should be reviewed to assess its appropriateness.

31. A statement on stress has been published and the policy for reducing and managing stress should be developed.

32. An audit trail is in place and this should be used to ensure that policies and procedures for managing health and safety are in place and operating effectively.

PART 11 -MANAGEMENT SYSTEM KEY ELEMENTS

3. POLICY [top]

Key Issue

The HSE team set out to establish whether or not there were effective health and safety policies in place. The team were interested in the following:

  • senior management's beliefs and commitment to health and safety and how these were communicated and used to set direction;
  • the recognition of the contribution health and safety can make to the effectiveness of the Fire Service;
  • the relative importance of health and safety in relation to other business needs;
  • the commitment to continuous improvement -the Fire Service's goals and ambitions;
  • how responsibilities for health and safety were organised and identified;
  • the commitment to maintain effective systems of, for example, communication, allocation of resources, planning, review and support;
  • how policies were supported by statements of organisation and arrangements necessary to implement them;
  • the standards expected to be achieved.

Findings

33. The Fire Service had a clear well written Corporate Health and Safety Policy which sets out responsibilities for health and safety throughout the organisation.

34. The Corporate Policy contained a positive statement of intent on health and safety .The Fire Service aimed to provide a safe and healthy working environment through co-operation between management, staff and external agencies such as the Ambulance Service and Police.

35. The policy is reviewed and has just been changed to take account of new management structures.

36. The Corporate Health and Safety Policy was supported by a number of Corporate policies on specific hearth and safety topics such as, risk assessments, violence to staff, which were contained in a file and were available at all premises.

There was a fully developed and clear procedure for producing and amending policies which involved the senior management team and the Safety Committee.

37. "The risk assessment procedure including that for dynamic risk assessments was clear and had been broken down into easily accessible procedures including a flowchart for dynamic risk assessments.

38. The HSE team found that the service has a comprehensive training programme for uniformed and non uniformed staff and keeps records of training. This will be more accessible as new information technology is installed. The team were impressed to find the commitment to training officers to NEBOSH General Certificate level which at present stands at 103 with at least five with Diplomas.

39. The Fire Service has a well developed system for recruitment of staff, selection, induction and promotion of health and safety culture inside and outside the service.

40. The health and safety unit works closely with senior management and produces an annual report on accidents and trends which is presented to the Chief Fire Officer. However, the HSE team were concerned that concentrating on accident I incident statistics may lead to a lack of emphasis on wider health and safety matters ie, preventative measures where ill health effects only show up after prolonged exposure. The team would like to see this broadened to cover other areas of health and safety management and to include targets for the coming year.

41. A statement on the management of stress has been produced. However, a policy has yet to be developed, this may be a result of concentrating on driving down accidents and the team would encourage the policy's development as soon as possible.

42. There is a policy on violence to staff and this should be kept under review to ensure it is appropriate to present conditions.

43. The Fire Service has a policy on visual display screen equipment and has carried out assessments in the Mobilising and Communications Centre (M.A.C.C). However it is not clear how the assessments have been carried out since a number of operators informed the team that some watches have not been assessed. There was also concern about high noise levels from headphones. The team understand M.A.C.C. is to be subject to a special inspection to resolve some of the issues raised by staff.

Recommendations

1. The Fire service should be encouraged to continue developing its existing Policies.

2. The annual Report to the Chief Fire officer should be more comprehensive and could include progress in other fields of health and safety management such as training, safety equipment, communications etc. It could also include future developments and targets.

3. A statement of intent on the management of stress has been developed and the team would encourage the development of a comprehensive policy, the aim being to eliminate or manage stress. This should be supported by a confidential counselling service.

4. The policy on violence to staff should be reviewed to ensure it is appropriate to present conditions.

5. The method of assessing workstations the Mobilising and Communications Centre should be reviewed to ensure all assessments are appropriate to persons actually working with visual display screen equipment. This should include the use of headphones.

4. ORGANISING

A. Control [top]

Key Issue

For health and safety policies to be effective there needs to be an adequate management structure to implement policies. The team were interested in the following:

  • the identification of a management structure which defined the authority and responsibilities for each element of health and safety management, for example, planning, implementing, auditing, etc;
  • whether there was an understanding by those with responsibilities of what they were expected to do to discharge them and the role of personal performance standards in the process;
  • how staff were held accountable for their health and safety performance:
  • how staff performance was rewarded and poor performance corrected.

Findings

44. The team found there was a clear and effective organisational structure for health and safety/risk management within the Service. The structure involved the Health and Safety Unit, a Risk Assessment Project Team, Corporate Health and safety Committee, and various specific tasks given to individuals/teams as required. The Fire service has an effective hierarchy of supervision.

45. The Health and safety Unit along with the attached Occupational Health Unit had a high level of skills and qualifications and were able to provide the Human ' Resources Unit, other parts of the Fire Service, and ultimately the Chief Fire Officer with high quality information on health and safety matters. The unit also provides accident statistics which can be broken down into areas and request action plans from the areas concerned.

46. The team found the each level of management had a clear notion that they were responsible for the health and safety of staff under their command.

47. A formal accident/incident investigation team had been established to quickly investigate significant accidents/incidents and near misses. The reports seen of ,; "accidents investigated appeared to be of a high quality .

48. Formal briefings took place after each time five or more appliances are used or at the request of a senior officer, or officers are injured or loss of life has occurred .

49. -Formal inspections of all fire stations takes place and the findings are recorded and copies kept on station.

50. The team were unclear as to what extent safety representatives are involved in debriefings and accident investigation or how the new investigation team will effect their ability to become involved in accident investigation.

51. Senior officers do not appear to monitor health and safety performance apart from reference to accident statistics.

52. There did not appear to be any health and safety responsibilities set out in job descriptions. It is unclear how staff are held accountable for managing health and safety.

53. There were no health and safety objectives for managers and no performance review to assist managers to assess and improve their performance.

Recommendations

6. The Fire Service should set health and safety objectives and these should be included in managers/employees job descriptions and work plans and be reviewed annually.

B. COMMUNICATION [top]

Key Issue

For effective communication of health and safety policies there needs to be arrangements to ensure adequate information flow into, within and from the Fire Service. The team were interested in the following:

  • how the Fire Service kept itself up to date and consulted others;
  • the availability and adequacy of health and safety information;
  • visibility of management behaviour for health and safety issues;
  • how health and safety was promoted, for example safety committees.

Findings

54. There was an established Fire service Health and Safety Committee which met monthly. The Committee worked closely with the Health and Safety Unit and risk assessment groups/individuals as well as the SafetyTraining Centre.

55. The chair of the committee alternated between the Fire Brigade Union and the Fire Service management. The higher members of the Fire Service, members of the Health and Safety Unit, technical services and members of the FBU normally attended.

56. The Fire Service has a sophisticated communication system which includes Brigade Orders, Home Office Guidance, risk assessments, debriefing papers, accident reports and analysis, health and safety manual, flyers and safety notes and news flashes. These were all seen at various premises visited and were easily available on fire stations.

57. Communication will be further enhanced with information technology now being installed, e-mail, data bases, training records on computer systems

58. Regular training was held on fire stations and any new orders could be brought to staffs attention via the station commander.

CO-OPERA TION [top]

Key Issue

For co-operation to be effective there needs to be adequate and appropriate arrangements to secure trust. Participation and involvement of all employees. The team was interested in the following.

  • The working of the Health and Safety Committee;
  • the involvement of employees in decision;
  • how the health and safety concerns expressed by staff were dealt with.

Findings

59. The Health and Safety Committee met bimonthly, with minutes being produced and distributed. The Health and Safety Committee and sub groups were involved in approving and reviewing Corporate policies as well as more immediate problems. A senior Fire Service officer is normally present at each meeting.

60. Safety Representatives are appointed throughout the Fire Service and take an active part in the Committee which is chaired alternately by the FBU and the Fire Service.

70. The Minutes of each Health and Safety Committee meeting are widely distributed to all stations.

71. Safety Representatives are involved in accident investigation, consultation and provision of some equipment although it is not clear as to what extent they are involved in setting standards for new equipment or how deeply they are consulted on risk assessments.

D. COMPETENCE [top]

Key Issue

There should be systems in place and arrangements to secure the health and safety competence of personnel. The team were interested in:

  • what systems were in place to ensure adequate training;
  • how training needs were identified at each stage, ie, at induction, conversion, refresher;
  • how trainees were supervised, appraised and evaluated;
  • The adequacy of health and safety advice.

Findings

72. The Fire service has a clear recruitment and selection policy which includes formal induction and training for new recruits.

73. There is a comprehensive training programme for staff which includes refresher training.

74. Training records are kept at the Safety Training Centre and training needs can be identified and developed with the assistance of the Health and Safety Unit.

75. The Fire Service has over 100 staff trained to NEBOSH General Certificate level And this process is continuing.

76. Every station commander has a NEBOSH General Certificate and this is ti include watch commanders.

77. Approximately six staff have the NEBOSH Diploma.

78. The members of the Health and safety Unit are all qualified to at least the General certificate level and some have the. Diploma.

79. The Fire Service has an area of excellence in their Safety Training Centre. All instructors are well qualified to teach their areas of expertise. The introduction of individual training logs for all Fire behavior instructors with validation of their initial instructor training from Essex or the Fire Service College and evidence of competencies will be required and will further enhance their competence.

80. A new system of competencies is to be introduced to ensure employees are trained and competent at their various tasks and remain so.

81. The Trade Union Safety Representatives undergo TUG Health and Safety training.

5. PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTING [top]

Planning is critical to effective policy implementation. Organisations should aim to apply the logic and rigor of business planning to the identification and control of risks. The aim should be to minimise the risks created by work activities and services. Risk assessment methods should be used to decide priorities' and set objectives for hazard elimination and risk reduction. Performance standards should be established and performance should be measured against these.

Key Issue

There should be adequate processes to produce plans to implement policies to improve health and safety standards. The team were interested in the following:

  • the existence and adequacy of health and safety plans;
  • the planning process and allocation of resources applied to them;
  • determination and the setting of priorities;
  • Hazard and risk assessment process;
  • The development. role and use of health and safety management system standards.

Findings

82. The Fire Service has developed plans which attempt to prevent accidents/incidents by effective planning of operations based on risk assessments and training needs. This has also led to allocation of capital for effective purchasing of equipment and the effective design of equipment, recruitment, and selection and maintenance of plant and systems of work.

83. Generic risk assessments have been completed for all main activities and the development and training in dynamic risk assessments has taken place including the development of a dynamic risk assessment flow chart.

84. The Fire Service has carried out formal health and safety inspections of its fire stations and continues to do so quarterly.

85. Training is given a high priority including refresher training.

86. Debriefings and investigation of accidents/incidents is carried out formally and recommendations made.

87. More in depth health and safety objectives should be developed to continue to develop and maintain performance levels.

88. Although asbestos has been identified in all buildings, a more extensive policy should be developed to manage asbestos with monitoring records and information for contractors.

89. The control of contractors should be reviewed to include some form of method statement for those jobs which do not come under the Construction Design and management Regulations and a monitoring regime.

Recommendations

8. More in depth health and safety objectives should be set to develop and maintain performance levels.

9. A policy on the management of asbestos in buildings should be developed with monitoring records and information for contractors.

10. Control of contractors should be reviewed to include some form of method statement for those jobs which do not come under CDM Regulations and a monitoring regime.

6. MEASURING PERFORMANCE

A. ACTIVE MONITORING [top]

Key Issue

The team were looking to identify the arrangements which were used to maintain controls in place and identify shortcomings before they resulted in accidents. The team were also interested in seeing how shortcomings were investigated and the use made of the information collected. The following were looked at:

  • how the management system as a whole was monitored;
  • how the active monitoring system was focussed and proportional to both hazard and degree of control;
  • how shortcomings were investigated;
  • The use of the information collected.

Findings

90. The Fire service has a formal health and safety inspection system which involves physical inspection of premises such as fire stations with the results recorded. It also has a system for checking some equipment daily ie, BA equipment, and has a recorded system where operational staff inspect their PPE and record the findings. The station commander checks records monthly.

91. ROSPA carried out a five star audit in 1998.

92. Audit trails are in place and the safety team carry out audits annually and will also sample audit.

93. Operational debriefings take place where possible problems can be identified for further investigation/action.

94. All managers receive information on accidents/incidents in their area and are asked for a plan to avoid/reduce risks.

95. Monitoring of accidents/incidents results takes place and this is used to form part of the health and safety action plan.

96. Investigation of accidents takes place and policies reviewed accordingly.

97. Although an annual report on accident/incident statistics is produced. senior managers have no formal system for monitoring health and safety performance. The team feel this may lead to a failure to manage other health and safety areas such as stress or manual handling which may only show up in the long term.

98. The Fire Service has a welfare unit which actively monitor ill-health and a rehabilitation programme. However, the occupational health unit was mainly reactive and an outside counselling service was provided on a reactive basis.

B. REACTIVE MONITORING [top]

Key Issue

The team were interested to see how near misses and incidents were reported, investigated and analysed. The team were interested in the following:

  • how employees were encouraged to report incidents and near misses;
  • the process which was used to investigate accidents;
  • how the level of investigation was determined;
  • how the information was used to identify common failures, features and trends.

Findings

99. The team found the Fire Service put a considerable amount of time and effort to improve accident and incident reporting and were producing statistics which were used to target efforts and reduce numbers.

100. Whilst high emphasis has always been placed on investigating accidents, form 3 July 2000 an Accident Investigation Team assumed responsibility for investigating certain incidents and loss time accidents to employees. This is able to respond 24 hours a day. It is recognised not only will this help to reduce accidents but help to reduce the financial impact -of such occurrences.

101. Each area of operation .and each fire station can have their accident statistics on a monthly basis and to reduce further accidents discussed. This has identified those areas oh high accident rates and the need to focus on those areas.

7. REVIEWING AND AUDITING [top]

This is the final step in the health and safety cycle and constitutes a "feedback loop" To assist in the assessment and validity and reliability of management planning and control systems. It provides managers and those forming policy with information on the implementation and effectiveness of plans and performance standards.

The review can be seen as making judgments about adequacy and performance. Decision, and the nature and timings of actions to remedy deficiencies identified.

Key Issue

The team were concerned to see how line management reviewed overall performance and the effectiveness of the health and safety management system. The following were of interest:

  • how health and safety policies were reviewed;
  • in the existence and role of performance indicators;
  • how remedial actions were tracked through to completion;
  • whether there was a clear purpose for an audit;
  • the audit controls which existed, for example, procedural and competence;
  • The standards or benchmarks upon which judgments are made.

Findings

102. As has already been stated, an annual report on accident/incident statistics is Prepared for senior managers and the Chief Fire Officer. This tends to give direction To future improvements in the management of health and safety.

103. The 1998 audit report by ROSPA had helped to provide some bench marking on health and safety performance.

105. Auditing and reviewing had been seen as important in managing health and safety performance and the Health and Safety Unit were activly involved in auditing and reviewing to ensure compliance with legislation and policies.

PART 111 - CONCLUSION

8. RECOMMENDATIONS [top]

POLICY

1. The Fire Service should be encouraged to continue developing its existing policies.

2. The Annual Report to the Chief Fire Officer should be more comprehensive and could include progress in other fields of health and safety management such as training, safety equipment, communications etc. It could also include future developments and targets.

3. A statement of intent on the management of stress has been developed and we would encourage the development of a comprehensive policy, the aim being to eliminate or manage stress. This should be supported by a confidential counselling service.

4. The policy on violence to staff should be reviewed to ensure it is appropriate to present conditions.

5. The method of carrying out DSE assessments should be reviewed in areas such as Mobilising and Communications and Centre to ensure all assessments are appropriate to persons actually working with display screen equipment. This should include the use of headphones and any fatigue caused by radio born noise.

ORGANISING

6. Accountability for health and safety performance should be strengthened by setting objectives and targets. These can be included in managers/employees job descriptions and work plans for the year and reviewed annually.

CO-OPERATION

7. The Fire service should encourage the Safety Representatives to become more involved in risk assessments and in the consultation on and the management of health and safety .

PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTING

8. More in depth and forward thinking health and safety objectives should set to develop and maintain performance levels.

9. A policy on the management of asbestos In buildings should be developed with monitoring records and Information for contractors.

10. Control of contractors should be reviewed to include some form of method statement for those jobs which do not come under CDM Regulations and a monitoring regime.

MEASURING PERFORMANCE

11. The HSE team would encourage the occupational health unit to be more proactive in monitoring areas where early intervention will reduce possible future health problems.