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Health and Safety Framework

West Midlands Fire Service Health and Safety Framework
Category: 
Service Policies and Procedures
Reading Time: 49 minutes

1.0 STRATEGY

The Service is committed to complying with its duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and associated legislation, for health, safety and wellbeing.

The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team are the competent advisors to the Service on health and safety and will advise all levels of the Service on the measures needed to comply with health and safety legislation and minimise the risk of injury and ill health at work. The Team report to the Strategic Enabler for Prevention.

A positive health and safety culture is built on everyone looking after their own health and safety and that of colleagues and others. It supports the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees and assertive, effective and safe firefighting.

The current policy is the one on MeshHub and any printed copies should be considered out of date. ​

2.0 PURPOSE

The Service sets out in this document several health and safety arrangements, providing detailed guidance in key health and safety areas, in the following appendices:

Appendix 1 – Health and safety policy commitment (this is a legal requirement)

Appendix 2 – CORE health and safety behaviours

Appendix 3 – Health and safety arrangements

Appendix 4 – A manager's checklist.

Appendix 5 – Flow of Health and Safety and Wellbeing Risk Assessment form (HS6) from Joint Consultative Committee to Brigade Health Safety and Wellbeing Committee (BHSWC) Meeting ​​

The requirements in this policy apply to all employees, and also non-employees that we work with such as volunteers and Fire Cadets. It includes guidance about contractors, visitors and shared premises.

3.0 RESPONSIBILITY

The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team are responsible for maintaining the health and safety framework and advising on health and safety arrangements, policy and strategy.

Line managers and employees are responsible for implementing health, safety and wellbeing policy. Line managers are responsible for their employees' and visitors' health and safety; and for ensuring risks in their areas are assessed.

All employees have a legal responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others and to co-operate with their employer on health and safety matters. ​​​

4.0 PROCEDURES

Several health and safety definitions are provided in Appendix 3 (Health and Safety arrangements, A-Z of useful information) and these provide the wording to assist in understanding that health and safety arrangement. 

These are contained in the A-Z section (Appendix 3).

Under health and safety law, these are known as health and safety arrangements.

5.0 APPENDICES

APPENDIX 1 - HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY COMMITMENT

OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU AND OUR STAKEHOLDERS In line with delivering a "safer, stronger and healthier West Midlands", it is important to maintain our focus on ensuring we continue to develop a positive approach to employee health, safety and wellbeing and to protect others from harm from our activities. To this end, we aim for an assertive, effective and safe approach when we respond to emergencies.

The Authority and Service are committed to working with all our employees and partners (internal and external) to achieve high standards of, and continuous improvements in, health and safety, which protect our employees and others we work with and affect.

This commitment has been recognised by the HMICFRS, who stated:
“West Midlands Fire Service has robust health and safety arrangements in place, including a governance process for strategic oversight and management of all health and safety issues.”

We want to look after our employees’ mental health at work and for them to feel well at work, in addition to their safety. We support this through pathways, for example, Occupational Health, the Employee Assistance Programme and the Personal Effectiveness at Work series. This support will benefit individuals and have a positive impact on how we all support each other and interact with the community we serve. We will continue to develop our approach and commitment to wellbeing at work and put suitable resources into this.

Fire fighter hygiene is an important current topic, in relation to preventing contamination and post-incident decontamination. Our work in this area has been recognised by other Fire and Rescue Services, as well as attracting press interest.
We recognise adverse safety events, such as injuries, impact significantly on individuals, their families and the whole organisation. We learn from these events to prevent future reoccurrence. HMICFRS stated:

“Health and safety is taken seriously, and staff are encouraged to report accidents and near misses so that learning and improvement can be shared.”
Let us all play our important part in achieving and exceeding legal compliance and excellence in these areas.​  

APPENDIX 2 - CORE HEALTH AND SAFETY BEHAVIOURS

We have identified three CORE behaviours that will allow us to build on success and reinforce a positive culture. ​​

​ChallengeChallenging unsafe behaviour allows our health, safety and wellbeing culture to grow. It should be done in an appropriate manner, which aims to encourage meaningful behavioural change. There is a legal duty on employees to draw health and safety shortcomings and serious and imminent danger to the attention of the Service.
OwnWe all have a responsibility to look after our own health, safety and wellbeing and that of our colleagues and others. This includes co-operating with the Service on health and safety matters and not engaging in behaviours, such as horseplay, that would put others at risk. An example of this is using the STARR​​​​ model, when facing unexpected situations, such as danger at an operational incident.
ReportEmployees have a duty to report safety events (injuries, near hits, violence), hazards and defects (premises, PPE, equipment, etc.) in good time. This provides vital intelligence to identify trends and emerging issues and allows positive action for improvement. Health and safety research shows that a good health and safety reporting culture allows a good picture of safety intelligence to be build up and from that trends can be identified, and organisational learning can take place.

APPENDIX 3 - HEALTH AND SAFETY ARRANGEMENTS

Health and safety arrangements (guidance and procedures) are in place to support the overall framework and these are detailed in alphabetical order below.

Accident investigation (Please also see injury reporting​ and follow up and Crisis Management Plan)

Most workplace injuries are minor and will be investigated and followed up locally by the line manager with a report in the PR12 injury form, confirming facts and adding any additional information. These are termed as minor safety events.

Where a serious or significant safety event, or death, takes place, an Area Commander will be notified, normally via Fire Control, and will undertake the role of Single Point of Contact (SPoC), and will usually follow the guidance in the Crisis Management Plan (see Crisis Management Plan below). These are termed stage 2 safety events and are listed in the injury reporting section.

If there is any doubt about whether an injury is minor or major, or for any other queries about an accident investigation, advice should be sought from the HSW Team.

The standard terms of reference for an accident investigation are to establish a timeline of the events and facts. The Single Point of Contact will set out the terms of reference as appropriate to the specific safety event. For joint accident investigations, terms of reference will be agreed between the Single Point of Contact and Representative Body. Any change from the terms of reference will be agreed by both parties prior to change.

Form HS10 can be used to record an accident investigation, or a written report can be submitted if form HS10 does not suit the nature of the safety event. Normally, accident investigations should look to report back within 21 days, but the Single Point of Contact will consider the nature of the accident and set out a timeframe for reporting. The Single Point of Contact is responsible for ensuring that the accident investigation is suitably resourced.

Mobilising of key roles, including an Area Commander acting as Single Point of Contact, Accident Investigator and the Representative Body's nominated Accident Investigator will be undertaken by Fire Control in line with their action plan.

The Service is committed to working with the Representative Bodies on accident investigation and undertaking joint investigations, when requested to do so by the Representative Body. Legally, the Representatives Bodies are entitled to examine the cause of accidents and conduct accident investigations.

When requested by the Representative Body that they wish a joint accident investigation to be undertaken, they will inform the Service (Via Fire Control, the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team or the Single Point of Contact as appropriate). The Single Point of Contact will be notified of the request as soon as possible and will contact the Representative Bodies nominated accident investigator to discuss and agree terms of reference and timescales for the joint accident investigation. This discussion will involve the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team, where possible.

The Service and the Representative Bodies will ensure that suitable employees will be allocated as accident investigators. The Service provides training in accident investigation to Flexi Duty Officers. The Representative Bodies should inform and update the Service on who their authorised accident investigators are and ensure that Fire Control are informed so their action plan can be kept up to date. The Representative Body will make nominations based upon the criteria of experience and availability, mindful of other factors, such as the need to maintain fleet availability to effectively manage risk and the efficient use of resources.

The Service will facilitate the Representative Bodies' nominated accident investigator the opportunity to attend to investigate an adverse event whether he/she is on or off duty. If the nominated Representative Body accident investigator is on duty, they will be facilitated the opportunity to leave their workplace, where reasonable, and carry out the investigation.  Where the safety representative is off duty, recompense will be at the agreed rate (Employee Relations Framework).

Where, during initial fact-finding or as part of the accident investigation, an individual performance issue is highlighted, the Service (normally through the Single Point of Contact) will ensure that appropriate discussion is held between the relevant managers. The affected individual(s) will be notified. If it is considered that the issue may be a misconduct or capability issue, a separate investigation will be commissioned at the appropriate level. However, the health and safety investigation will take priority, and, unless exceptional circumstances apply, decisions and conclusions in respect of investigations will not be made until the health and safety investigation has concluded. The service will discuss the implications of further investigations if approached by a Representative Body, where the Representative Body acts with the employee's consent.

Where an individual performance issue is highlighted in respect of a Representative Body health and safety investigator, the case should be discussed, after obtaining the employee's agreement, with a senior Representative Body representative or permanent union official, at the earliest opportunity, and before any management decisions are made. The Service and the Representative Body will work collaboratively to resolve the issues, allowing reasonable time to seek and provide timely advice.

Once the investigation report is complete and signed off by the Single Point of Contact, the report will be logged with the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team and Organisational Intelligence. Organisational Intelligence, as directed by the Single Point of Contact, will arrange a Learning Panel. This will involve the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team and the relevant Representative Bodies. Organisational Intelligence will draw up and monitor the agreed action plan from the Learning Panel and this will be reported into the Brigade Health, Safety and Wellbeing meeting. Accident Investigation reports will be shared with key stakeholders, including the Representative Bodies, through the Data Manager to ensure GPDR requirements are met. Feedback into National Operational Learning will be undertaken if appropriate.

A Memorandum of Understanding for investigating over the border incidents is in place with neighbouring Fire and Rescue Services (Staffordshire; Hereford & Worcester; Shropshire; and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Services).  The Fire and Rescue Service responsible for the geographical area in which the incident occurs will take primacy over the investigation process. ​

Alcohol

Information on alcohol is contained in Alcohol, Drugs and Other Substances and this is under the ownership of Occupational Health.

Asbestos in buildings

Information on asbestos in buildings is contained in Management of Asbestos on Fire Service Premises​ and this is under the ownership of Facilities Management.  Operational Procedure Notes include information on asbestos at operational incidents. ​​

Committees (Health, Safety and Wellbeing - HSW)

Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committees contribute towards the effective communication and monitoring of health, safety and wellbeing matters. The Service is committed to meeting its legal duty to hold Health and Safety Committee meetings, as requested by the Representative Bodies. An effective Health, Safety, and Wellbeing (HSW) Committee structure will assist with the communication and consultation process. HSW Committees do not deal with industrial relations issues, which are addressed via the Employee Relations Framework. There are two levels of HSW committees functioning within the West Midlands Fire Service. These are at Brigade and local level.

There is an agreed structure for Brigade and Local HSW Committee meetings, working to agreed Terms of Reference for:

  • Brigade Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee
  • Local Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee

An annual programme of dates will be agreed and published. HSW Committee meetings should not be cancelled or postponed except in very exceptional circumstances. Where cancellation is unavoidable, a new date should be agreed by management, Representative Bodies and be publicised. Local dates should be timed to facilitate a good attendance. BHSWC meetings are timed to link with JCC. ​

Computers

Please see display screen equipment.

Consultation

All managers should, as a matter of routine, communicate relevant health, safety and wellbeing information to employees, such as information relating to risks in the workplace and the control measures in place.

Health and Safety Representatives represent employees on health and safety matters and, in health and safety law, employers (via relevant managers) are required to consult on the following specific matters:

the introduction of any measure which may substantially affect the health and safety of employees represented.

any health and safety training or information the employer is required to provide; and

the health and safety consequences of the introduction of new technology. 

Formal consultation arrangements will be achieved via the flow of information within and between the BHSWC and the JCC.  Appendix 5 provides additional information on the process. ​​​

Contractors

The Service engages contractors to undertake a wide range of work to construct, modify, repair and maintain its premises. Competent contractors are selected, by Facilities Management, to undertake this work. When contractors arrive on individual sites, a discussion about the work will take place between the contractor and a Service manager/employee.  Form HS02 is used to record that the health and safety aspects of the work have been discussed at local level and should be completed and forwarded to the HSW Team once work is complete.

The contractor should report to the officer in charge/supervisor and sign in and out of the visitors' book daily. At Fire Service Headquarters, all contractors will be booked in by Reception staff. 

When available, the officer in charge/supervisor should periodically monitor the contractor to ensure that the controls stated on form HS02 are being adhered to. If any Service employee notices any issues or safety concerns, these should be discussed with the contractor and reported to Facilities Management and the HSW Team, as necessary. Particular attention should be paid to higher risk areas – electrical work, confined space work, hot work, work at height and work affecting/involving asbestos.

The work area should be reviewed, before the contractor leaves, to ensure it has been left in a safe state and the work has been completed satisfactorily.​

CoSHH

A substance hazardous to health is defined in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (CoSHH) as any substance or product which is indicated as very toxic, toxic, harmful, corrosive or irritant. It also includes substances with a Workplace Exposure Limit, biological agents, carcinogens, certain dusts and other substances which create a risk to health because of their properties and the way they are used or present in the workplace. The risk of harm is caused by ingestion, inhalation, skin contact or skin absorption. CoSHH does not deal with asbestos, lead, radioactive substances or flammable substances, as other specific legislation exists.

West Midlands Fire Service will aim to provide substances, such as chemicals, cleaning products, oils and paints, that are low risk and minimise environmental impact and the necessary evaluation of products should be completed prior to purchase. Where hazardous substances are required, attempts should be made to substitute, where reasonably practicable, with a non-hazardous or less hazardous alternative.

For products that are centrally purchased via Procurement, Procurement will work with the relevant department to ensure an up-to-date safety data sheet is obtained and to produce a CoSHH assessment. For any other products, the responsible department or line manager should ensure this process is followed and Procurement should always be consulted. A blank CoSHH assessment can be obtained from the HSW Team who will give guidance on completion. Where a complex assessment has been identified, the HSW Team should be asked to assist with the assessment.

Completed COSHH assessment and safety data sheets must be forwarded to the HSW Team to quality assure and update on MESH (HSW Team site under People, risk assessment section).

Local managers are also responsible for maintaining a current register of substances on their site/within their work area.

If the manufacturer or supplier of the product changes, a new SDS should be obtained, the CoSHH assessment reviewed and the HSW Team informed.

It is the responsibility of all employees, before using a substance or product, to search MESH for the CoSHH assessment and ensure that they use, store and dispose of substances in line with the guidance they have been given. Any relevant PPE should be worn when using the substance. 

Crisis Management Plan

A fatal or very serious safety event needs to be managed well, due to the impact it can have on those involved, such as those affected and their families; and the legal ramifications it can have for the Service, for example, HSE enforcement, Fees for Intervention and/or prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and/or the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act. The Plan for Fatal and Serious Accidents (Crisis Management Plan) is designed to assist those involved when faced with this situation. It explains what may happen and what actions may need to be taken. It cannot cover all eventualities, but it gives a framework to follow and parts of the plan can be appropriately applied where a less serious event occurs. The master copy is maintained by the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team and is available from the Duty Incident Room Manager.

An Area Commander will perform the role of Single Point of Contact and manage the various aspects of the Plan. This includes informing the Chief Fire Officer and Representative Bodies and considering joint accident investigation. ​

Critical incident debriefing

Information on critical incident debriefing (CID) is contained in Post Incident Defusing & Critical Incident Debrief and is under the ownership of occupational health.

Dangerous occurrences

Employees should report dangerous occurrences as a near hit.

Dangerous occurrences are defined under RIDDOR. Relevant dangerous occurrences will be reported to the HSE by the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team. The main occurrences likely to affect the Fire Service are: 

  • the malfunction of BA: where the malfunction causes a significant risk of personal injury to the user; or during testing immediately prior to use, where the malfunction would have caused a significant risk to the health and safety of the user had it occurred during use. 
  • the collapse, overturning or failure of any load bearing part of any lifting equipment, other than an accessory for lifting, e.g. a hydraulic platform. ​

Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

The DSE Regulations classify a display screen equipment user as an employee who habitually uses display screen equipment for a significant part of their normal working day or shift, that is, near-continuous spells of an hour or more at a time, more or less daily as their job requirement and have to transfer information quickly, using high levels of concentration.

Uniformed and Support posts are classed as DSE users unless the line manager determines a post involves minimal computer use (less than an hour a day). The HSW Team can be consulted for advice, if needed.

Anyone using a computer should complete the 'Display Screen Equipment' Ecademy training package. This will help users to set up their workstation correctly. At the end of this package is a workstation self-assessment form, which needs to be completed and submitted to the line manager. The assessment should be undertaken again after any significant change, such as a change of location or a new illness, as it is no longer valid, and the training should be refreshed periodically. The line manager should review the form with the DSE user and follow up any issues raised. Any necessary ancillary equipment, such as a document holder, or footrest are funded by the department or station. Items, including chairs, are available to order via Quick Order. Furniture is funded corporately. If general advice on items such as chairs are needed, this can be provided by the HSW Team. Where there is a workstation issue linked to a medical issue (e.g. Employee returning after an operation or employee has developed back or shoulder problems) and specialist advice is needed, the line manger should make a referral to Occupational Health (OHR1 process). Occupational Health will be able to advise on suitable furniture and/or if other follow up like physiotherapy is needed. Additional support for complex illnesses or conditions can be accessed through the PSS Business Partners, using the scheme "Access to Work".

Line managers should make sure that users are able to take adequate and frequent breaks, such as 10 minutes in every hour, to carry out an alternative task. Short, frequent breaks are more effective than longer, infrequent breaks.

Employees are responsible for reporting any health and safety problems, or medical or disability issues, regarding the use of their computer to their manager, as soon as possible. The line manager should refer the employee to the HSW Team, if necessary, and inform the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team of any significant health problems arising from DSE work.

Personnel who are designated DSE users may claim back the cost of an eyesight test. The cost of the eyesight test will be covered by the Authority in line with the health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations, subject to the current maximum limit (£25). DSE users may also claim for the cost of corrective appliances (glasses or contact lenses), if they will be for DSE use only (designed to correct vision defects at the viewing distance or distances used specifically for the DSE work concerned). An optician should provide a statement to this effect before reimbursement will be considered. The cost of spectacles will be borne by the Authority, subject to the current maximum limit (£48.00), in cases where they have been prescribed specifically for DSE use. Reimbursement of the cost of the eyesight test and any spectacles for DSE use will be through Payrolls. This will be subject to the production of a receipt and a completed F20 form (Claim for Reimbursement – available on QuickForms). Payment is made as a reimbursement and, as such, is not subject to income tax. Form HS4, DSE Eye and Eyesight Test, also needs to be completed and submitted with the completed F20 form.

A two-year period is normally recommended between eyesight tests. ​

Drugs

Information on drugs is contained in Alcohol, Drugs and Other Substances and is under the ownership of occupational health.

Electrical equipment

Information on electrical equipment is contained in Electrical Equipment and is under the ownership of Facilities Management.


All plug-in electrical equipment will have a dated sticker on, indicating that it is safe to use. ​

Fire

Information on fire is contained in Fire Safety and Security Procedures and is under the ownership of Protection.

First aid

A first aider is someone with a current First Aid at Work certificate who can provide emergency first aid and look after equipment and facilities. First aiders will respond to emergencies and take charge of the initial treatment until a Paramedic or Doctor arrives (if called out).

Training is available via Global Training Courses (GTC) and is open to all personnel.

Risk assessments for first aid should be undertaken and first aid provision is likely to feature as a control measure on many risk assessments.  

The minimum level of first aid equipment is a properly identified first aid box supplied with a sufficient quantity of suitable first aid materials. No medicines, tablets or unauthorised items should be stored in a first aid box. First aid boxes and grab bags should be checked by the first aider, in accordance with the periodic test/maintenance data sheet and as part of the quarterly workplace health and safety inspection.

Flexi duty officers will carry a travelling first aid kit. Appliance first aid kits will be treated as a normal operational item and be transferred to other appliances when necessary. Vehicle first aid boxes will remain with the vehicles.

Individually wrapped sterile blue adhesive dressings are made available for use in food preparation areas, in accordance with food hygiene regulations.

Site managers should ensure that sites have suitable safety signage, detailing the identity of first aiders and location of first aid boxes. This should include the reception area where visitors attend. ​

Food hygiene

Information is contained within the food hygiene information document (See also Catering Procedure) and Facilities Management can provide subject matter expertise. Managers and employees have a duty to ensure good hygiene standards are maintained in food preparation areas.

Hazard reporting

All employees should report any health and safety hazards or defects to the manager of the area. A hazard is something that has the potential to cause loss, damage or injury.  This underpins our behavioural approach and positive culture.

Hazard warning boards 

Significant and new hazards should also be entered on the hazard warning board.  All fire stations have a prominently displayed hazard warning board. Additional boards for a fire station or other site can be requested, if there is a need, but these should be suitably managed.  The board will be supplied and installed by Facilities Management but funded by the site.  The purpose of the board is to identify significant hazards on the site and bring them to the attention of employees, visitors and contractors. Managers should routinely review the board and check the information is current and bring relevant information to the attention of employees, visitors and contractors. Actions should be put in place to ensure that hazards are addressed, and risks minimised. ​​​

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The HSE are responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation in the Fire and Rescue Service sector. If HSE contacts a site directly they should be referred to the HSW Team, who are the nominated single point of contact for the HSE. This will assist in dealing with the matter as efficiently and timely as possible, to minimise potential costs. They can also verify if the HSE Inspector's opinion of any potential material breach of statutory duty is correct or worth challenging. The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team also know the health and safety policies of the organisation and can ensure the correct information is passed to the Inspector. 

Under health and safety legislation, HSE have duties to charge a Fee for Intervention to organisations where it is thought by the Inspector that there is a 'material breach' of health and safety law. The fee relates to all regulatory work undertaken by and on behalf of the HSE.  A 'material breach' is when, in the opinion of an Inspector, there is, or has been, a contravention of health and safety law that requires them to issue written notification of that opinion to the duty-holder.

The aim when responding to an HSE visit is to: 

deal with the matter as efficiently and proactively as possible, so to minimise the costs and to improve. Costs continue to be incurred until the alleged breach is remedied. 

consider carefully what the HSE are requiring and how reasonable and practicable that is – arguing the point may cost a lot more than making the change. 

​not make any uninformed admissions of breaches to pacify the Inspector as these could be used in future court cases. 


The powers of an HSE inspector are summarised below:

  • To enter premises at any reasonable time, or at any time in a dangerous situation.
  • To be accompanied as they consider necessary, for example, take a police officer if they believe they will be obstructed.
  • To make such examination and investigation as may in any circumstances be necessary.
  • To direct that premises or any part of them, or anything contained within, shall be left undisturbed for so long as is reasonably necessary.
  • To take such measurements and photographs and make such recordings necessary.
  • To take samples of any articles or substances found in any premises and of the atmosphere in or in the vicinity of any such premises.
  • In the case of any article or substance found in any premises, to cause it to be dismantled or subjected to any process or test (but not to damage or destroy it unless this is in the circumstances necessary for the purpose mentioned above).
  • In the case of any such article or substance, to take possession of it and detain it for as long as is necessary to examine it, to ensure it is not tampered with and to ensure it is available for evidence.
  • To require any person to give any information relevant to any examination or investigation to answer such questions as the inspector thinks fit to ask and to sign a declaration of the truth of the answers. Management can be excluded from sitting in at these interviews.
  • To require the production of, inspect and take copies of any entry in any book or document.
  • To require any person to afford the Inspector such facilities and assistance necessary. ​

Health and safety representatives

The appointment of safety representatives and Representative Body appointed accident investigators shall be the preserve of the Representative Body. The responsibility for notifying the service of the Representative Body safety representative and appointed accident investigators falls to the Representative Body brigade committee officials or regional/national officials. The Representative Bodies should keep the HSW Team updated on any changes when these occur.

The role of the health and safety representative includes:

  • investigating potential hazards and dangerous occurrences in the workplace and examining the causes of accidents in the workplace; see also the accident investigation guidance.
  • investigating complaints by any employee relating to that employee's health, safety or welfare at work.
  • making representations to the employer on general matters affecting the health, safety or welfare of employees in the workplace.
  • carrying out inspections of the workplace (routine and following safety events), including non-Fire Service venues which are used for off-station training (joint risk assessments as per WMFS policy).
  • representing employees in workplace consultations with inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive and any other enforcing authority; and
  • attending meetings of HSW Committees in the capacity of a safety representative.
  • The Service will provide reasonable time off with pay to safety representatives, as well as the necessary facilities and assistance required in pursuing their functions. People Support Services will determine what is reasonable, in line with the Employee Relations Framework. Time off should be requested by the Safety Representative, via line management. 

The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations require employers to consult employees who are not members of a representative body on health and safety matters.  Non-union employees may elect a person to act on their behalf on health and safety matters (known in law as a representative of employee safety). Such representatives have similar rights and functions to representative bodies' safety representatives. ​

Injury reporting and follow up (Please also see accident investigation)

Injuries that should be reported include those involving employees, contractors, visitors, volunteers and members of the public.  The injury may have been sustained on WMFS premises or related to our off-site activities. An injury involves some form of physical damage to the body, for example, burn (including skin reddening for fire house training/assessments), bruise, cut or fracture, and includes conditions such as whiplash. ​

The key points when an injury occurs are:

  • That first aid or medical attention is obtained if necessary. Injured or ill persons should not drive themselves to hospital or other health care facility.
  • That consideration should be given to the welfare of personnel and the critical incident debrief/post-incident diffusing process may be initiated (see Post Incident Defusing & Critical Incident Debrief), if required.
  • That Fire Control are notified immediately of any injury or safety event falling within the stage 2 list in the table below. Fire Control will complete and submit a PR12a initial injury report and initiate their action plan, which includes mobilising an accident investigator, notifying the Representative Bodies and initiating the Crisis Management Plan, if needed.
  • That an initial notification is made for minor injuries as soon as possible using form PR12A and e-mailing this to _PR12AConfidential@wmfs.net . It is important that the HSW Team are notified of injuries as soon as possible so that they can review the safety event and follow up, as needed, and monitor any sickness taken to ensure RIDDOR reports are made if the relevant criteria are met. The PR12A form facilitates this.
  • That form PR12A is completed (supported by witness statements, a local manager's report and any photos taken) and sent to the HSW Team within 14 days of the injury. The PR12A provides a full report and includes a local investigation.
  • That the scene should be preserved, where possible, if the accident is serious or requires photographing or further evaluation (this may be attended by the accident investigators for the service and the representative body at the time or a later visit).
  • That an appropriate level of investigation takes place, followed up by any identified learning.  Where an accident investigator (for stage 2 safety events) has not been mobilised, an accident investigation is undertaken by the line manager.
  • That employees or others are informed of any remaining risks arising from the accident/incident and any actions to take to avoid or reduce that risk in the immediate time period.
  • That the nominated next of kin should be informed about any significant illness or significant injury of an employee whilst at work, unless the employee objects. Next of kin details are available on HRMS and can be accessed by line managers or, if out of hours, by the Fire Control officer-in charge or Incident Room Manager. ​
  • For Stage 2 safety events – see table below. The key points are that Fire Control are informed and an accident Investigator is mobilised.
A fatality
An injury resulting in unconsciousness, requiring resuscitation or requiring significant first aid or trauma treatment at the scene
An injury requiring admission into intensive care, critical care unit or being admitted to hospital for further evaluation/treatment
Any fracture or crush injury
A serious eye injury
A significant burn injury. A burn includes a scald and skin reddening. It is difficult to define significant, but this would include a hospital check/attendance. Where there is doubt as to significant, the Duty Officer should be consulted via Fire Control and the Duty Officer can advise on whether a stage 2 investigation is needed. Fire Control should always be informed of any burn at an incident or during hot fire training so the Duty Officer can be informed and consulted about accident investigation.
Hypothermia or heat-induced illness
Smoke inhalation, resulting in medical treatment at the scene (e.g. from a Paramedic), or attendance at hospital
A significant electrical shock or electrical burn
A significant injury to a non-employee including an ambulance being called or hospital attendance
A significant vehicle, equipment, premises or PPE failure including breathing apparatus, lifting equipment and pressure systems
Breathing apparatus distress to wearer (see OPN 50 Firefax BA procedures)A collapse of scaffolding on WMFS premisesRoad traffic collisions where there has been an injury to anyone, or resulting in hospital attendance of employees or third parties, or the immobilisation of a service vehicle
Any other injury or safety event deemed worthy of investigation by the Duty Area Commander. Fire Control should refer queries to the Area Commander.   Note – Where an injury occurs and there is a doubt over whether these criteria have been met, or a line manager feels there is a need to mobilise an accident investigator, the line manager involved should inform Fire Control so the Duty Officer can be consulted. ​


Any subsequent absence, of WMFS personnel, from work arising from the injury should be recorded on SMART as an "on-duty injury". 

It is important that SMART is kept up to date so the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team can monitor sickness following injury.

Off duty injuries should be reported on form PR96 to People Support Services, in line with Attendance Management Policy.

The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team are responsible for reporting relevant injuries to the HSE under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) within the prescribed timescales. Relevant categories of reports include fatalities, over 7-day absences including any restricted duties, specified injuries (the list includes most fractures) and certain injuries to visitors (normally where they have been taken to hospital after the injury). Reporting is connected to "arising out of or connection with work" and normally excludes sports related injuries. RIDDOR normally excludes road traffic collision related injuries as these are the primary concern of the Police. ​

 

Legionella

Information on legionella is contained in Legionellosis and is under the ownership of Facilities Management.

The key control measure is weekly flushing of identified water outlets. ​

Lone working

The HSE defines lone workers as those who work by themselves, without close or direct supervision. Lone workers can be found in a variety of situations. In most cases, lone working is acceptable, but it should be risk assessed to ensure adequate controls are in place. Key considerations to help ensure lone workers are not put at risk include:

  • assessing areas of risk including violence, manual handling, the medical suitability of the individual to work alone and whether the workplace itself presents a risk to them
  • considering any training requirements, levels of experience and how best to monitor and supervise the lone worker
  • making sure a responsible person knows what is happening, including having systems in place to keep in touch with the lone worker​

Manual handling

Manual handling operations are defined as "the transporting or supporting of a load including lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, throwing, carrying or moving". In the Service, this includes handling people, as well as inanimate loads.

Form HS6 is to be used for recording the manual handling findings of risk assessments.

Employees have the responsibility to inform their manager of any condition which might affect their ability to undertake manual handling safely, for example, pregnancy or injury. When undertaking any manual handling task, the person(s) involved should always do a quick assessment. This assessment does not need to be written down.  The assessment should consider TILE (Task, Individual, Load and Environment).

There is an Ecademy training package that is mandatory for all new staff and should be refreshed every two years for operational staff, including Fire Control. ​

Mobile phones

Information on mobile phones is contained in Driving at Work Management of Occupational Road Risk (MORR). Driver Training can provide advice in this area. In brief, the Service allows the use of mobile phones with hands-free equipment. ​

Near hit reporting

As part of its overall approach to collating organisational intelligence and learning from this, the Service has an established system for the reporting of near hits. These, along with injury and violence reports, form the safety event reporting procedure and support the CORE approach to safety culture (Challenge, Own, Report).  All employees have a duty to report any near hit by informing their line manager; and completing a near hit workbook on Activity Assistant or e-mailing _Near Hit & Violence Hotline. 

A near hit (also known as a near miss, close call or narrow escape) is something which has not caused injury at the time but could cause injury, damage or loss if circumstances change slightly and corrective action is not taken. Studies have shown that injury accidents are often preceded by warnings or near hits. 

Reporting allows for trends to be identified, so that suitable actions can then be taken to reduce likelihood/severity and improve health and safety standards. The focus of health and safety improvements will be on those reports which indicate the greatest potential for injury/damage/loss.

Near hit reporting is not a substitute for other forms of reporting, which include EB1's to Facilities Management for premises defects, vehicle defects to TEW, BA defects to EMS, PPE reports to Bristol or ICT issues to Service Desk (e.g. satnav, MDT and radio issue). These systems should always be followed as they are the primary means to alert the departments concerned to an issue. The submission of a near hit should confirm that the primary reporting system has been followed giving any reference number provided (e.g. EB1 number) and make clear what the health and safety issue is. As much information as possible should be provided such as name, date, time location, bar codes, fleet numbers incident number if applicable and so on. Any local preventative action taken or suggestions for improvement should also be included. 

The email address (_Hydrant Near Hits) should be used to report all near hits and defects involving hydrants. These reports go directly to the Water Team who can then investigate the near hit or defect.

In the event of a near hit relating to National Resilience assets, Fire Control should be informed immediately by the users of the vehicle/equipment, in addition to submitting a near hit report.  Any near hit that involves National Resilience assets or associated systems of work will be notified to the National Resilience Fire Control (NRFC), by Fire Control. 

Confidential reports can be submitted, but these are expected to be normally around a people/management issue, rather than an equipment or system or work issue.

The HSW Team will assess the report and determine if it will be accepted as a near hit. If further action or investigation is required, the report will be forwarded to the relevant person/department. Replies to the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team should generally be made within 21 days, although this will be dependent on the content of the report.  

At the initial stage, the originator will be informed by the HSW Team if their report is being accepted and, if so, what action is being taken. The Team will normally try and copy in the station commander/section head and local health and safety representative for their awareness.

The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team will feed back information on the outcome of the near hit report. If an originator has had no feedback after 21 days of making the report, or wishes to discuss a reply further, they should contact the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team. ​

Noise

There is an Ecademy training course on noise which provides detailed information around this topic.

The following are indications of a noise problem in the workplace:

  • if your ears ring after an activity, for example, using powered equipment.
  • If you need to shout whilst having a conversation with someone who is 2 metres away, due to a noisy environment.
  • In such cases, you should contact the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team, who will review the noise assessment and existing controls.

Suitable hearing protection is carried on all front-line appliances and has been issued to a range of uniformed and support staff. Hearing protection is available from Quick Order. The protection available is as follows:

  • earplugs – 2 types, according to the user's preference.
  • earmuffs (Compressor Rooms); and
  • ​earmuffs (Major Rescue Unit).


It is the responsibility of the employee to wear the hearing protection when required. It is the responsibility of the immediate line manager/supervisor to ensure that it is worn.

All employees should wear hearing protection, as detailed below, when using or maintaining the equipment listed. Hearing protection should also be worn in situations where employees find it hard to have a conversation with a person who is 2 metres away, because of background noise. This indicates that noise levels are high enough to require hearing protection. ​

Operational Equipment requiring hearing protection

This applies to operational personnel, other personnel in the vicinity and any others that may use the equipment, such as TEW personnel, and so on.

Major Rescue Equipment (MRU) - when operating the Major Rescue Unit equipment, such as disc cutters (all sizes), Kango hammer and reciprocating saw.

Any personnel working within 5 metres of the MRU 110v generator should also wear hearing protection.

PPV Fan - when operating the PPV fan, or when within 8 unobstructed metres of the fan.

Light Portable Pump (LPP) - when operating the light portable pump.

Reciprocating Saw - when operating the reciprocating saw.

Impact Wrench - when operating the impact wrench.

Combi Drill - when operating the drill.

Pump Operator – when carrying out pump operator duties. The wearing of a radio earpiece, and using a high-volume setting, will assist with any communications difficulties experienced.

Bobcat - the bobcat operator and safety officer should wear hearing protection when carrying out operational duties and training.

Hydraulic Platforms (HP) - HP crews should always wear hearing protection during the setup, operational use and during training.

Foam Demountable Unit (FDU) - when operating the FDU.

Operational personnel should wear hearing protection when attending AFAs (alarms).

On Station

When in the BA compressor room and the compressor is on.

The BA servicing room is not classed as a hearing protection zone. If it is separate to the compressor room, you are not required to wear hearing protection unless you are going to 'crack' open a cylinder that is not connected to anything. For this reason, the ear defenders and storage bag should remain in the BA service room.

When using a leaf blower.

Testing of Air Horns and Sirens

Air horns and sirens by nature must be loud to be heard when required. To reduce noise exposure when testing air horns and sirens etc., personnel should avoid doing this in an enclosed space or appliance bay. It is better to undertake such testing with the appliance parked outside the appliance bay or tested en-route during the first journey of the day. The length of the test should also be kept to a minimum.

Transport Engineering Workshops

There are several situations, tasks and pieces of equipment that require TEW employees to wear hearing protection. Details of these are known locally.

Hydrant Technician

Certain equipment used by the Hydrant Technicians requires the use of hearing protection. Details of these are known locally.

Technical Rescue Unit

There are several situations, tasks and pieces of equipment that require TRU personnel to wear hearing protection. Details of these are known locally. ​

Audiometric testing is a programmed screening process, which will identify possible hearing loss. The test is carried out, every 3 years, by Occupational Health.

When procuring equipment that emits noise, the responsible department or person should consider the noise levels as part of the process and procure equipment with lower noise levels, trying to purchase equipment that operates below 80 dB(A) where reasonably practicable. ​

PPE

Information on PPE is contained in Policy PPE Framework. Procurement, Policy Team, Research and Development and the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team can be contacted for advice.

Pregnancy

Information on pregnancy is contained in Pregnancy, Maternity, Paternity, Adoption SP Provisions Leave and Pay 06 which is under the ownership of People Support Services.

Prescribed diseases

Several prescribed diseases should be reported to the HSE under RIDDOR.  These are:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • severe cramp of the hand or forearm.
  • occupational dermatitis.
  • hand-arm vibration syndrome.
  • occupational asthma.
  • tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm.
  • any occupational cancer; and
  • any disease attributed to an occupational exposure to a biological agent.
  • Any prescribed disease should be reported immediately to the appropriate line manager.  The line manager will inform the HSW Team who will investigate and, upon confirmation of the facts, make the relevant report to the HSE. A diagnosis by a qualified medical practitioner will be required to support this. ​

RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations)


Please see dangerous occurrences, injury reporting and prescribed diseases. The two main categories of injury report under RIDDOR are work-related accidents leading to specified injuries and over 7-day injuries. RIDDOR reports to the HSE are made by the HSW Team. ​

Risk assessment

We are all faced in our daily lives with a range of hazards (the potential for harm) and risks (the likelihood and severity of harm arising from hazards). The Service's key message on risk is for employees to be "risk aware" (being aware of a range of risks and the control measures to be followed), not "risk averse" (being discouraged from undertaking activity due to a perceived or potential risk, even when there is a benefit and control measures are in place). That is not to say that all risk should be accepted.

In line with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, the Service is committed, by giving responsibility to the relevant line managers, to ensuring that all its activities, operational and non-operational, are subject to a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk, so that the risks to employees' and non-employees' health and safety from work activities are appropriately controlled.

A risk assessment is a careful examination of what could cause harm to employees and non-employees, to ensure that suitable and sufficient precautions (control measures) are taken to prevent or reduce harm.  Implementation of control measures will, as far as possible, follow the established hierarchy of control measures. This includes elimination of risk, minimisation of risk, management controls, provision of adequate information, instruction and training and providing personal protective equipment as a last resort.


All line managers are responsible for ensuring that suitable and sufficient risk assessments are undertaken, and reviewed, for their areas of responsibility; and copies forwarded to the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team. The significant findings of risk assessments for operational incidents and equipment will be published via Operational Procedure Notes (OPNs) and Technical Information Notes (TINs). 

There is an Ecademy course for all employees to complete that provides the knowledge to complete a risk assessment.

The HSW Team is available for guidance and assistance; will provide a quality assurance role; and will maintain a risk assessment library on MESH. The HSW Team will publish risk assessments onto MESH and ensure documents have suitable tagging to allow employees to search for the risk assessment they need.

Risk assessments should be completed on form HS6, available on QuickForms. The completed HS6 should be forwarded to the responsible manager for review and action. Managers should act on the recommendations of the risk assessment to ensure appropriate controls are in place. They should also ensure all relevant personnel and the representative bodies are informed of significant findings.

Line Managers are responsible for initiating reviews of their risk assessments. These should be reviewed:

  • when there has been a significant change (e.g. change in personnel, equipment, location, or circumstances).
  • when there has been a significant safety event, whether or not an injury resulted.
  • when active or reactive monitoring of systems and procedures indicates a need to do so; or
  • on a periodic basis (normally 3 years, unless high risk activity, when this may be earlier).
  • A risk assessment review should:
  • consider any changes or issues and address them.
  • consider if hazards and risks have been identified sufficiently.
  • consider if appropriate control measures are in place and identify and implement improvements if they are not; and
  • consider the frequency of any near hits or injuries. ​


Risk assessment – off-station training

The three main health and safety considerations when arranging off-station training or an exercise are:

  • to involve the Representative Bodies.
  • to complete an off-station training and exercise risk assessment form (HS3) and forward a copy to the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team. This form should be completed to detail the hazards and risks from the premises or site where the training or exercise is to be carried out. The aim is to ensure that training can take place without placing crews at unnecessary risk (a training scenario, whilst preparing crews for incidents, remains a controlled environment) and ensuring the exercise or training is realistic and contributes to developing and maintaining competence/excellence.  Risk assessments that cover the activity being undertaken during the training e.g. BA, hazardous materials, water rescue and so on, and the equipment in use should be available on MESH.
  • to request an indemnity from Administration (Indemnity request form on MESH). 
  • The HSW Team is available for guidance and assistance; will provide a quality assurance role; and will maintain a risk assessment library on MESH. The HSW Team will publish risk assessments onto MESH and ensure documents have suitable tagging to allow employees to search for the risk assessment they need.

The Representative Bodies have an entitlement under health and safety legislation to inspect the workplace and this extends to off-site venues.  The Service has a duty to complete the risk assessment and is committed to working with the Representative Bodies on health and safety matters.  It will take account of issues raised by the Representative Bodies.

The Service has agreed to provide the Representative Bodies with sufficient time to allow them to complete a health and safety inspection of the site, should they choose to.
 

Scale of eventMinimum notice to be given to Health and Safety Representative
No notice exercisesThe Representative Bodies should be invited to inspect venues for these exercises wherever possible in line with the timescales below. It is accepted that for certain (restricted) exercises, it will not be possible to make this invitation. A management risk assessment of the venue/training is still required.
Service wide exercise1 month
Medium exercise2 weeks
Local exercise2 weeks
Minor ad-hoc trainingTraining in some public areas, such as the roadway, requires no indemnity and training can take place at short notice. The station Health and Safety Representative should be involved, wherever practicable, so that they can undertake an inspection if they wish.  A management risk assessment of the venue/training is still required.   If training on someone else's property, a current, valid indemnity is required. The station Health and Safety Representative should be involved, wherever practicable, so that they can undertake an inspection if they wish.  A management risk assessment of the venue/training is still required.   For station training, where stations have a venue that they have used in the past, it has been risk assessed, the Representative Body have been invited to inspect and we have a current, valid indemnity and permission to use, such venues can be used without notice (for the risk assessment to remain valid, the venue should be in the same condition as when it was assessed).   Once the indemnity is issued, it will normally run for 12 months.

Details of the Representatives who have been approved by the FBU to inspect off station training or exercise venues are available from the HSW Team. ​

Smoking and Vaping

It is the responsibility of the service to comply with its statutory duties under the smoke free law to protect the health and safety of all our employees and to reduce the risk of fires.

This refers to smoking any tobacco products and the use of E-cigarettes, personal vaporisers (PVs) and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and relates to anyone on or in West Midlands Fire Service property.

Although they fall outside the scope of smoke-free legislation, the organisation prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in workplace buildings and vehicles. The organisation's rationale for a ban on e-cigarettes is that although they do not produce smoke, e-cigarettes produce a vapour that could provide a potential health risk to other employees.

The Service's smoking policy is that it will not be permitted:

  • inside any Service building.
  • inside any service vehicle or private vehicle when used for work purposes.
  • at client locations.
  • when on duty in the presence of members of our communities; or
  • inside substantially enclosed areas, such as backwashes with closed sides, or balconies, or within four metres of any building opening.

Smoking will be allowed outside on Service premises, in designated areas only.  The manager or a nominated responsible person at each site will ensure a safe, suitable and signposted area is identified for smoking and that this is communicated to all personnel, visitors and contractors. Smoking of electronic cigarettes is only permitted in designated areas, separate from the designated smokers' area.

In breaching the framework, individuals may be committing a criminal offence and fixed penalty notices can be issued by the appropriate local authority against individuals, managers or the organisation. ​

Snow clearing

Managers of sites should produce a plan of the site showing the priority areas to be cleared of snow, ice or frost (snow clearing plan).  Failure to adequately clear snow or ice has resulted in serious injury.  The plan should be displayed prominently on site.

Equipment, such as snow shovels and gritters, is provided for this purpose and is available on Quick Order.

On stations, prior to the change of shifts, the off-going crew or watch commanders should ensure that all essential areas are free from snow, ice or frost and slip or trip hazards, to ensure the safe arrival and departure of personnel and safe turn-out of appliances.

On all other premises, the responsible manager should ensure that all the essential areas are free from snow, ice or frost, as soon as possible after the start of the working day and prior to the end of the working day, to ensure the safe arrival and departure of personnel.

If no grit is available, fresh snow should be cleared. Any areas that cannot be adequately gritted or cleared, but may pose a risk to personnel, should be closed, where possible. Suitable clothing and footwear should be worn by those clearing snow and ice.

The essential areas to clear will vary between each station and site and should be discussed and decided on by the manager, in consultation with the Health and Safety Representative.

Essential areas, such as access routes to the premises, should be cleared where possible. The areas to clear should be communicated to all personnel on site but will need to be reviewed at the time of freezing conditions to take account of:

  • the physical demands on personnel in clearing the snow, including manual handling (rotate personnel where necessary).
  • the temperature at the time; and
  • the risks, for example, black ice or heavy snow falls.
  • Managers of sites should ensure there is enough snow clearing equipment and grit available on their site to deal with the clearing of snow and ice. Grit and snow clearing equipment should be stored in an area that is easily reached and fairly sheltered, so that there is a minimal risk from slipping on snow, ice or frost when approaching it.

All personnel should be vigilant in freezing conditions and wear suitable footwear. Avoid washing appliances in freezing conditions, to prevent the formation of ice. Cancel outside activities, if necessary. Advise visitors and cancel visits or deliveries, if necessary. ​


Stress and mental health

Information on this topic is contained within Wellbeing Health and Fitness Wellbeing, Health and Fitness.

Training

Induction training is important, should be completed within the first week of employment and should include:

  • Health and Safety framework.
  • layout of the premises.
  • how to report an injury, near hit or violence event.
  • emergency procedure for the site in the event of fire or imminent danger.
  • first aid arrangements for the site, including the identity of first aiders.
  • the Service's smoking policy.
  • the Service's alcohol and drugs policy.
  • the requirement to undertake visual checks of portable electrical appliances.
  • the procedure for the employee to follow if working alone.
  • the name of their health and safety representative and environmental champion.
  • the visitors and control of contractors’ procedure.
  • Ecademy courses available.
  • how to set up their workstation (computer). 

This list can be used when providing a health and safety induction to partners using fire service premises.
 
There are a range of health and safety courses available on Ecademy to provide information to all employees on key HSW topics:
 

  • accident investigation
  • conflict resolution
  • control of contractors
  • crew cab safety
  • display screen equipment
  • induction
  • Legionnaire's disease
  • manual handling
  • noise at work
  • risk assessment
  • safe use of ladders and step ladders
  • STAR​R model
  • Support staff attending incidents
  • The following courses are current;
    Specialist Accident investigation (for flexi duty officers) – request via GTC.

Qualsafe level 2 health and safety – A programme is in place and Stations/Departments will be contacted by BEST to arrange dates. The HSW Team provide internal quality assurance for this course.

If additional health and safety training needs are identified, these should be discussed with the HSW Team. ​

Vibration

Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) is vibration transmitted from vibrating equipment, used in work processes, into workers' hands and arms. The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations include an exposure action value (EAV) and an exposure limit value (ELV), based on a combination of the vibration at the grip point(s) on the equipment or workpiece and the time spent gripping it. The exposure action and limit values are (based on an 8-hour shift):

a daily EAV of 2.5 m/s2 A(8) that represents a clear risk requiring management; and

a daily ELV of 5 m/s2 A(8) that represents a high risk above which employees should not be exposed.

Damaged and very old models of equipment may be hazardous even when used for very short periods. Most types of hand-held, hand-guided or hand-fed powered equipment can cause ill-health from vibration if used incorrectly or are poorly maintained.

Regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to two forms of permanent ill-health:

hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS); and

carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Symptoms and effects of HAVS and CTS include:

tingling and numbness in the fingers which can result in an inability to do fine work, or everyday tasks.

loss of strength in the hands which might affect the ability to do work safely; and

the fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery, reducing the ability to work in cold or damp conditions, for example, outdoors.

Employees should report any symptoms and effects to line managers as soon as possible after they occur. A referral to the HSW Team should be submitted using form OHR1.  

The Service has assessed several pieces of equipment for HAV. Operating times for the following equipment should be limited (per day) as detailed below, to reduce the risk of a hand-arm vibration related injury. If the equipment is required to be used for longer than the times below, then the job should be rotated among personnel.
 

Transport Engineering Workshops   Chicago Impact Wrench (CP 5000) 6 minutes Bosch Jigsaw (GST 100 BSE) 12 minutes Air Chisel, cutting metal 13 minutes Blue Point Ratchet Wrench (AT700E) 16 minutes Cengar Reciprocating Saw (CL50175) 30 minutes   Operational Equipment   Bosch Angle Grinder (GWS 20-230H) 8 minutes De Walt Saw (DW938) 10 minutes Makita Reciprocating Saw (DJR 181RME) 5 minutes Makita Impact Wrench (DTW 281RME) 5 minutes Makita Combi Drill (DHP 484RTJ) 15 minutes   Specialist Equipment  Specialist equipment, such as the Incident Response Unit and Technical Rescue Unit equipment, has been assessed nationally and the findings should be known at local level by those personnel using this equipment.

When powered equipment is in use, managers and/or supervisors should break up continuous use by individuals, by job rotation.

Whole body vibration is transmitted through the seat or feet of employees who drive mobile machines, or other work vehicles, over rough and uneven surfaces as a main part of their job. Large shocks and jolts may cause health risks, including back pain.  If the Bobcat is used for long periods on rough terrain, job rotation should be used to reduce any potential risk. ​

Violence reporting

The HSE definition of work-related violence is: 'any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work. This can include verbal abuse or threats as well as physical attacks.'

A violence near hit includes verbal abuse; physical attack, for example, stone throwing or physical contact; and a booby trap, nuisance, threatening behaviour or laser pen attack. In certain circumstances, some forms of verbal abuse may happen, without the intention to be specifically aimed at the Fire and Rescue Service, for example, people who are distressed due to the situation and people with a mental health condition.

A hate crime goes beyond simply causing offence or hostility and is any criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by an offender's hatred of someone because of their:

  • race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality or national origins.
  • religion.
  • gender or gender identity.
  • sexual orientation.
  • disability; and/or
  • age. 

Anyone in the Service can report violence or hate crime if this arises. Reporting is vital to help reveal any patterns of violence – an important step in solving the problem. It is also necessary as part of evidence gathering should police action be necessary. 

Reports should be made via Activity Assistant, either the incident workbook or station workbook for non- operational violence; or by e-mail to _Near Hit & Violence Hotline. 

General violence reports should not be made to Fire Control as this will not be passed onto the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team. Fire Control should only be informed of hate crime so that police assistance can be requested and/or violence where it forms part of an informative message at an incident. This should still be reported, as outlined above.

Form HS30 was developed in conjunction with the police and should be used to record descriptions of people giving verbal or physical abuse to WMFS staff. The completed form should be kept securely on site and made available when reporting any violence or crime to the police. It forms part of an evidence chain that is needed to convict anyone of an offence in such cases. 

Support to individuals affected by violence can be provided if needed via critical incident debriefing and post incident diffusing and via occupational health, via OHR1 referral.

The Media Relations Manager should be informed of any significant incidents of violence at work. In terms of media, each incident will be considered on its individual merits. Generally, a low-key approach will be taken to avoid copycat attacks, although significant events of violence and police action may be publicised, to express the Service's condemnation of such attacks and to act as a deterrent to others. All handling of the media in relation to violence at work will be in accordance with relevant policies and regulations (for example, Corporate Communications Policy, Data Protection Act). 

Where trends are identified, in relation to violent situations encountered by fire crews, Station Commanders should pass this information to Data Management so the details can be added to the mobilising information, for example, on potential problem locations.  Crews can also ask via Fire Control that the mobilising information be updated if needed at the time. Station Commanders should discuss any local trend with the Station Health and Safety Representative.

The HSW Team will liaise with Station Commanders or section heads to establish what follow up action has been taken locally. They will record this information as part of establishing the outcomes to reports.  The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team do not routinely feedback to the originator of violence reports as it can often be some time before a trend becomes apparent or a suitable follow up action is identified. The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team will feedback information on follow up action when they become aware of it. Local managers should be the first point of contact for information. ​

Visitors and shared premises

A visitor is defined as "any member of the public, contractor, other visiting organisation or member of our Service, either uniformed or support staff (on or off duty), who ordinarily work at another Service location."

All visitors, including Fire Service personnel, should sign in and out of the visitors' book of the premises they are visiting, except for standby crews. This is for fire evacuation and security purposes. Very short-term visitors, e.g. meter reader, delivery person and for a large event, such as an open day, do not need to sign in. Completed visitor signing sheets should be retained for at least three months; they can then be shredded or securely disposed of (due to the Data Protection Act). Visitors should receive an appropriate health and safety briefing. There is guidance on this in Visitors' books.

Fire Service personnel have the right to refuse entry to visitors for security reasons (Security Arrangements); for reasons of anti-social behaviour (drunkenness, abusiveness and so on); or if they are unsure of the person visiting (for example, no identification or valid reason for visit).

There should be signs in place to direct visitors to a reception area.

The Fire Service representative should ensure that visitors are appropriately supervised whilst on Fire Service premises and arrangements are made should crews turn out to an emergency. Where children are visiting, additional supervision may be required, and appropriate levels of supervision should be confirmed with the relevant school etc. The Fire Service representative should identify any requirements or risks arising out of the special needs of any visitor, for example, blindness, deafness, lack of mobility.

A formal risk assessment using form HS6 should be carried out by the manager or event organiser for open days, social events and all visits where there may be exposure to risk, for example, equipment demonstrations. A risk assessment is not needed for routine visits.

When arranging visits, Fire Service personnel should make suitable arrangements to ensure the health and safety of any disabled visitors, for example, people who have mobility problems, hearing difficulties or are blind or partially sighted, and any visitors whose first language is not English. Any special needs of visitors should be established, wherever possible, in advance.

Risk assessments regarding Service premises should consider trespassers. Under the Occupiers Liability Act, the Service owes a duty of care to trespassers. Managers of sites should ensure that security measures are in place to deter trespassers, for example, secure perimeter fence and so on. There should also be adequate measures to prevent trespassers (including children) being exposed to dangers on site, for example, scrap cars fenced off and drill tower secured when not in use.

Risk assessments regarding Service premises should consider shared premises.  There is a duty in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to co-operate on health and safety issues.

The responsible manager should ensure the following at shared premises:

  • ensure that a formal contract or agreement is drawn up between the two parties and that this includes a statement regarding the other party complying with its HSW and environmental responsibilities whilst on Service premises.
  • ensure that the premises are fit for purpose and offer a safe workplace to the organisation.
  • ensure that information on site risks (for example, emergency turnout, pole drops, access and egress) and site activity is exchanged and discussed to ensure safe working procedures are in place.
  • ensure that the other organisation is aware of the Service's safety procedures.
  • ensure the other organisation provides first aid arrangements.
  • ensure that meetings take place to discuss health and safety issues that affect both organisations.
  • ensure that there is a procedure for any lone working.
  • ensure that any electrical equipment brought onto site is PAT tested.
  • ensure that arrangements are agreed for completing the quarterly workplace HSW inspection.
  • ensure the procedure to report building defects is explained.
  • ensure that security arrangements and booking in and out arrangements are discussed and agreed.
  • ensure that arrangements are in place so that the other organisation informs the Service of any hazards and risks that would affect Service activity or personnel.
  • ensure that the other organisation is given an induction to the site and HSW procedures.
  • ensure that the other organisation is aware of the Service's environmental procedures, such as recycling; reducing the use of resources such as paper; and energy saving and targets.
  • monitor and review the use of energy by the other organisation.
  • Form HS28 can be used for taster days. ​

Work equipment

​​​Manufacturers and suppliers have a legal duty to supply work equipment that is safe and without risks to health when properly used. They are obliged to provide adequate information about its safe use. They are obliged to CE mark equipment where it meets a relevant European standard. The CE mark does not mean the equipment is safe but does indicate that a degree of health and safety has been built into the item.


Where machinery is purchased, the person responsible for procurement will ensure that a Declaration of Conformity is obtained from the supplier and kept on record.

Where equipment is modified by the Service, a risk assessment review should take place. Manufacturers or suppliers should be consulted, prior to any proposed modifications, and written approval provided by manufacturers to confirm the CE mark is still valid.

Defective items of equipment, machinery or plant should be identified and taken out of service immediately. Any employee can remove defective equipment from service and inform their line manager.  Arrangements for remedial action should be made. 'DANGER DO NOT USE' tape (Quick Order) can be used to label any defective items, which should include an M1 report into the defect.

Work equipment is to be risk assessed as part of the overall risk assessment approach. Arrangements for inspecting and testing the equipment should form part of the control measures and, for operational equipment, will fit into periodic testing.

The Service will only loan equipment in exceptional circumstances, with appropriate permissions. Where permission has been given, the Service will, before doing so, provide the user with the appropriate information as to its safe use and maintenance, carry out a risk assessment to cover the loan and return of the equipment and ensure that appropriate indemnities and insurance cover is in place for the Service and third party.​

Work at height (non-operational)

Work at height means any place of work from which a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. This includes means of access and egress, other than by a permanent staircase, and includes working next to an unguarded edge where a person could fall, such as a pit or basement. Falls from a relatively low height can cause significant injury or even death. The Work at Height Regulations also cover the areas adjacent to and underneath any fragile surface, which presents a risk to personnel and members of the public from falling items such as debris, tools and equipment.

Any work at height must be risk assessed.

The hierarchy of safety measures for working at height is:

  • avoid the risk by not working at height. For example, perform the task in a safe manner from the ground using alternative methods or equipment. If this is not possible:
  • prevent falls. This might include choosing better access equipment, for example, scaffold tower rather than a ladder, or choosing the right work equipment to prevent falls, such as a work restraint system. If this is not possible:
  • mitigate the consequences of a fall. Where there remains a risk of a person or object falling, control measures should be put in place to minimise the distance and consequences of such falls, for example, safety nets, safety harness or fall arrest.
  • Personnel should be medically fit to work at height. The following conditions should be reported to managers and the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team and may preclude working at height:
  • any form of epilepsy.
  • vertigo.
  • Meniere's syndrome.
  • heart conditions.
  • musculoskeletal conditions causing restriction of movement or reach (mechanical mobility); or
  • any other medical condition that my affect the safety of the person working at height.
  • Non-operational ladders should be inspected in accordance with test card 9002/S.  Inspections should be recorded on ePTR except where there is a local agreed variation. Other equipment such as kick stools should be inspected prior to use. There is no requirement to record this test. Any damage should be reported, and appropriate action taken, that is, ladder or kick stool removed from service and marked with defective equipment tape. 
  • There is an Ecademy course available on the Safe Use of Ladders and Step Ladders. ​

Workplace health and safe​​ty inspections

The aims of workplace health and safety inspections are to proactively identify any potential or existing health and safety or environmental hazards and take the appropriate action; and to identify whether previously reported defects have been satisfactorily resolved.  Form HS1 should be used to record the results of inspections.

Inspections should be planned quarterly (April – June, July – September, October – December, January – March). Additional inspections may be carried out at any other time as local needs dictate, for example, during times of abnormal activity, such as when building work or repairs are taking place. 

It is recommended that inspections are carried out jointly with the local health and safety representative, where possible (health and safety representatives are entitled to carry out their own formal inspection of the workplace on a quarterly basis, subject to giving reasonable written notice to the manager).

For shared premises, the watch commander of the station to which a section is attached will be responsible for the inspection of the surrounding grounds, for example, car parks, driveways, and so on, and will, following each inspection, inform the manager of the section of the relevant details.  Parts of premises that have been allocated to other organisations (shared premises) should be inspected by the Fire Service, with a member of the relevant organisation (for example, ambulance, council) present if possible. 

Members of the HSW Team are entitled to carry out periodic inspections, either planned or unannounced, of any West Midlands Fire Service premises.  Inspections are undertaken as part of the Station Peer Assessment process.

Station Commanders/site managers should ensure that suitable actions are taken to address the findings of inspections.  Completed HS1 forms should be retained in electronic form on the BHSWC Team/SharePoint site, in the Workplace Inspection channel, where each site has a folder. Relevant inspection findings should be communicated to on site personnel/persons sharing premises. The HSW Team undertake an analysis of the forms to identify any trends which adds to safety intelligence received. ​

Work experience

There are several definitions of a young person and a child.  Generally, a young person is anyone under 18 years of age and a child is anyone under 16 years of age. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require employers to ensure that young workers are protected from health and safety risks.  This specific duty arises from their lack of experience; lack of awareness of existing or potential risks; or the fact that young persons have not fully matured.

Children shall not be employed for work:

  • which is beyond their physical or psychological capacity.
  • involving harmful exposure to toxic or carcinogenic substances; substances that can cause damage or harm to an unborn child; or substances that can chronically affect human health in any other way.
  • involving harmful exposure to radiation.
  • involving the risk of accidents which cannot be reasonably recognised or avoided by young people, owing to their insufficient attention to safety or lack of experience or training; or in which there is a risk to health from extreme cold or heat, noise or vibration.
  • Young persons may carry out such work if:
  • the work is necessary for their training.
  • the work is properly supervised by a competent person; and
  • the risks are reduced the lowest reasonably practicable level.
  • Form HS6 should be used to record the findings of a risk assessment involving work experience or young people and should confirm the young person can perform the tasks associated with the post. ​

APPENDIX 4 - MANAGERS' CHECKLIST

Key Manager HSW Tasks/ActionsComments/Evidence
Ensure a health and safety induction is provided to new starters, employees transferring into the work area and to partners using fire service premises.
Promote and support positive health and safety behaviours, including local wellbeing initiatives. 
Lead on challenging unsuitable health and safety behaviours. 
Work closely with the local Health and Safety Representative. 
Liaise with HSW Team. Seek advice when needed. 
Check that risk assessments are in place and current. 
Ensure effective health and safety reporting and investigation takes place, relating to hazards, risks, injuries, near hits and violence. 
Ensure site snow and ice plans are current. 
Liaise closely with any organisations sharing the site. 
Walk the workplace and ensure standards are maintained for housekeeping, PPE, work equipment, premises, furniture, hygiene and so on. 
Ensure competency records are up to date, including for health and safety Ecademy courses. 
Regularly attend health, safety and wellbeing meetings; and contribute effectively to discussions and the resolution of issues. 
Communicate and actively discuss key health, safety and wellbeing messages – corporate and local. 
Ensure legionella weekly checks are maintained. 
Ensure control of contractor and visitor procedures are followed. 
Ensure fire procedures are up to date, including the fire risk assessment and fire drills. 
Ensure first aid arrangements are in place and maintained. 
Ensure workstations are assessed and comfortable for DSE users. ​

APPENDIX 5 - FLOW OF HEALTH SAFETY and WELLBEING RISK ASSESSMENT FORM (HS6) FROM JOINT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE TO BRIGADE HEALTH SAFETY AND WELLBEING COMMITTEE (BHSWC) MEETING​

UPDATED FLOW CHART TO BE ADDED

6.0 DOCUMENT CONTROL AND AUDIT

Audit 
Responsible SET Member Accountable  Prevention
Authorised bySi Barry
Direct enquiries toPolicyofficers@wmfs.net
EIA (Date Completed & Name)Full EIA – December 2018. February 2020 – Injury Reporting (Mark Bishop) December 2020. Confirmation from DICE Business Partner – EIA is not needed for changes made to HSW Committee information
PIA (Date Completed & Name)Full PIA - December 2018 February 2020 – Injury reporting (Mark Bishop) December 2020. Confirmation from Data Governance Manager – PIA is not needed for changes to HSW Committee changes
Review History 
Version #DateReviewed By
1.01/9/2018Mark Bishop, HSW Team
2.01/10/2021Catherine Ince, Mark Bishop, John Ashton, HSW Team
   
Amendment History 
Version #DateAmended BySection AmendedAmendmentReason for change
V1.18/12/20Julie FeltonAppendix 3 and 5  Updates to HSW Committees and flow of HS6.   Department names have been amended throughout.Updated ToR and HS6
2.01/10/2021Catherine Ince, Mark Bishop, John Ashton, HSW TeamAppendix 3 – Accident Investigation   Appendix 3 – CoSHHIncluded signposting to the HSW Team for advice on the severity of injury Re-write to include new requirements for local managers to take responsibility for CoSHH matters   Updated Strategic Enabler in Strategy (Reference was incorrect). Accident Investigation updated to reflect what happens to AI reports. Sent to HSW not OI. Various references changed to now reference product packs and other references updated to framework/policy rather than standing orders. Dangerous occurrences updated to add scaffolding and make clear HSW Team will do any RIDDOR report needed. Food hygiene updated to include ecademy course. Injury reporting updated in line with previous consultation that was signed off but not updated due to further dialogue with Fire control. Prescribed diseases updated in line with current HSE list. RIDDOR updated to provide more information on HSWE Team role. Food hygiene added to training list and updated made for Qualsafe and accident investigation in line with current training programme. Work equipment updated in line with CE marking changes post Brexit. Work at height updated to make clear medical requirements are for all personnel and to make clear policies for ops staff and non ops staff.Anecdotal evidence that individuals don’t always know the level of injury   Enhanced legal compliance
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