Napo health and safety training

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Napo health and safety training

Napo’s Health and Safety training took place from 8 to 10 July in London and on the first day received a visit from an Inspector of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – Defence and Public Protection Team area, Peter Collingwood.

He explained the law that governs the HSE, the H&S at Work Act 1974, especially of importance for trade unions being Section 2 (concerning employees) and Section 3 (concerning sub contractors and the public).

The Act mainly came into being as a result of deaths in the construction industry, approximating 200 to 300 deaths a year in the 1960s. Since the Act was introduced fatalities have fallen to around 50 per year, which means work is still to be done but the situation is much improved.

Their work focuses on engaging with stake holders, promoting guidance to make workplaces safer and then inspecting especially the high risk workplaces and doing further investigation which may lead to Enforcement Notices.

Visits in Probation

Peter went on to explain about the recent visits his team had done to probation offices in Cheshunt and Leicester, Approved Premises in Hull, Stoke and Peterborough and to Wolverhampton magistrates’ court.

Informal interviews had been held with a number of staff at all levels and the main findings were:

  • Facilities management, such as time lags for repairs which may be safety critical. For example, an electronic safety door had not been working for weeks in one office. They also found that sub-contractors are not always working to the same Service Level Agreements as the main facilities contractor.
  • Around Training, staff have found it difficult to enrol on courses, more training was required around mental health issues and specific training for reception staff and that the online training system doesn’t suit at all.  
  • The communication flow especially safety information (such as risk of violence, on any medication) from prisons was patchy and inconsistent.
  • Workloads issues, such as the Workloads Measurement Tool (WMT) was criticised, the nature of the high profile complex cases increasing stress (more counselling was needed for those working sex offender cases) and the Double Waking Night Cover in Approved Premises was also heavily criticised.
  • Issues in the Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court were that risk assessments could not be fully implemented due to the nature of the building, there were unsuitable interview rooms, no panic alarms, poor communication between the NPS and HMCTS regarding the budget to cover required control measures.

The HSE have written to Sonia Crozier with the findings and the NPS have been given a date some time in August by which to respond.

Points raised in the discussion around this were:

  • The new rotas introduced in APs were very rigid forcing people to work early, then late nights, often 8-10 days without a break. It was clear the rotas were clearly in breach of all the HSE guidance around shift-working.
  • Reps were also surprised to hear this work had been done as this had not been mentioned at recent NPS National H&S meetings so this would be followed up at the next national meeting of 18th July.
  • The issue of breaks having to be held in communal areas in APs was also brought up. The fact that staff rooms were being turned into extra bedrooms, however staff having to take breaks in communal areas meant that they were actually still on duty as residents would also be present there, so you’re actually not getting a break from work. 
  • Facility time is a big issue, it takes a lot of time to look things up, and to chase things up and this on top of Workloads.
  • The lack of a national H&S structure for the CRCs needs to be taken up and the MoJ needs to be pressed to put it in the contracts.
  • Stress pilots in HMP Liverpool is still in progress.

Annoesjka Valent

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