National Health & Safety Inspection Day
Your Trade Union Safety Reps plan to carry out a number of Workplace Inspections on and around 22 October 2014 which is National Inspection Day.
The work will be undertaken by Safety Reps from a variety of Trade Unions working together.
Any hazards identified will be forwarded to management to resolve and we are in the process of trying to arrange further Inspections mainly (but not restricted to) Services for Communities sites.
If you have any concerns about Health and Safety, please let your Safety Rep. This particularly includes any hazards that may make it important to prioritise a workplace inspection.
If you don’t have a health and safety rep, why not appoint one?
Previous Inspection News
Your Trade Union Safety Reps carried out a
number of Workplace Inspections on and around
24 October 2012 which was National Inspection
The work was undertaken by Safety Reps from
a variety of Trade Unions working together.
It’s not possible to list everything that
came out of these inspections.
This work has been carried forward and we are
in the process of trying to arrange further
Inspections mainly (but not restricted to) Services
for Communities sites.
If you have any concerns about Health and Safety,
please let your Safety Rep. This particularly
includes any hazards that may make it important
to prioritise a workplace inspection.
If you don’t have a health and safety
rep, why not appoint one?
Inspections are an important
way of identifying potential workplace hazards
before they cause any harm. They are also a
good way of meeting and getting to know UNISON
members and potential members in a workplace.
Inspections can be used to raise
the profile of UNISON and the role of the Trade
Union's Health and Safety Representatives (reps).
Members and non-members alike
value UNISON's Health and Safety work so an
inspection can be used as an organising and
Carrying out workplace Health
and Safety inspections is therefore one of the
Health and Safety Reps most important functions.
However, this does not mean it has to be difficult
or complicated or that the Rep should feel obliged
to do more than they are comfortable with.
Start small with an occasional
inspection and build this up over time and with
experience. Ideally this should eventually lead
to regular quarterly inspections.
Where it is possible new Safety
Reps should be accompanied on their first inspection
by a more experienced Safety Rep or by the Branch
Health and Safety Officer.
The right to carry out inspections
comes from the Safety Representatives and Safety
Committees Regulations 1977, otherwise known
as 'The Brown Book'. These regulations also
make it clear that Safety Reps are entitled
to paid time off for carrying out inspections,
as well as for carrying out their other functions.
We are starting to arrange a
programme of joint inspections with management
covering the larger workplaces to begin with
and working outwards from there. The programme
of dates agreed so far is as follows;
- City Chambers and Lothian Chambers completed
- 1 Cockburn Street completed July 2011
- Waverley Court completed July 2011
- South Neighbourhood Office completed September
- Chesser House completed September 2011
- Westwood House completed September 2011
- North Neighbourhood Office TBA October 2011
- East Neighbourhood Office 13 October 2011
- Leith Neighbourhood Office 2 November 2011
- South Queensferry Neighbourhood Office 3
- Kirkliston Neighbourhood Office TBA
A series of Workplace Inspections commenced
in July 2011. A proper programme needs to be
set up to undertake these in a more structured
way but initially I felt that it would be helpful
to start with the Campus sites and the Neighbourhood
Offices. The first Inspection when Inspections
have not been carried out for a period is generally
done at a fairly high level. The focus was on
identifying basic hazards for example trip hazards,
unsafe storage, dimensions in the working area.
Future Inspection dates will be planned in
advance enabling me to notify local stewards
so that issues raised by workers can be investigated
as part of the Inspection. The buildings done
in the first tranche were generally safe. None
of the above issues appeared problematic.
City Chambers (including 249 & 329 High Street)
6 - 13 July 2011.
Basic building issues appear to be acceptable.
Generally photocopiers are away from working
areas, corridors clear, the stairs are in a
decent state of repair and workstations in good
There are concerns about the heating in 329
in the higher floors overlooking the quadrant
and the housekeeping in one or two areas requires
action. Storeroom on level 4 of 249 requires
action which I understand Building Management
have notified to management.
1 Cockburn Street 13 July 2011.
Basic issues were acceptable in line with City
Heating was raised as a problem in a number
of areas. Contact with Facilities Management
might be useful to look specifically at heating.
It is a customer facing site and I have a
few queries about the interview rooms that workers
use. They did not from brief observation appear
to be compliant with DSE standards but I'm aware
that they may only spend short periods of time
there so it may not be a problem. I note that
the interview rooms are in a corridor so I'd
be interested to see what the procedures are
for dealing with potentially violent incidents.
I'm unclear if there is an alarm system.
The Ground Floor accommodation has already
been the subject of concerns from Health and
Safety Section and Building Management. Property
Services are looking at alternative accommodation
for the staff but this has to be done as a matter
Waverley Court 20 July 2011
The basic issues again were fine. Heating has
long been a problem for workers at this site
and a meeting is in the process of being arranged
to look at the possible solutions for this site
and for 249 High Street.
There is an EVAC system in place in the stair
at the spine of the building however I understand
that no training has been delivered due to a
lack of agreement over funding.
Lothian Chambers 21 July 2011
This site is significantly different to the
other sites; it is sparsely populated by staff
considering the size of the building but can
have many visitors on site attending meetings
or ceremonies or reporting births, deaths or
marriages. No Safety issues identified during
South Neighbourhood Office 16 September 2011
This was the first Neighbourhood Office to
be inspected. It has a range of activities carried
out including a busy customer area incorporating
I spent some time discussing Safety issues
with staff based at the site and from SfC Business
Improvement and Performance before undertaking
a walk round the area. No accidents have been
Customers have faced prosecution following
incidents at the site. In addition to "routine"
work there are Community Service workers based
here so customers serving the Orders are collected
here. In general terms there is a clear commitment
to maintaining the workplace safely.
We discussed Fire Safety procedures and I was
able to view the relevant documents. In addition
to the scheduled drills there had been a proper
evacuation in an incident triggered by a fire
started by a customer.
No temporary heating is used at the site. First
Aiders are paid (consistent with Council policy).
There is a First Aid Room which had been threatened
with closure to be used as storage. This has
not happened and I would recommend against it.
MFDs are sited away from working areas.
Cleaning is done outwith working hours and
there are no stairs so the risk of slips, trips
and falls is reduced. PAT work takes place annually.
Some relatively minor work requires to be done
in terms of housekeeping in some of the storage
areas and there are items being stored on top
of cupboards which should not be happening.
There are also occasional issues regarding food
storage with items being left out attracting
Many workers use computer equipment and they
should all undertake a DSE risk assessment if
they have not done so at their current workstation.
There are complaints about temperature as there
are at many Council sites. Consideration should
be given to increasing the number of sensors
so that temperature can be managed more locally.
There are outside workers based at the site.
Staff such as Environmental Wardens should be
covered by risk assessments which would stipulate
what PPE is required. Other staff may be required
to work outdoors on an ad hoc basis for example
undertaking work due to Severe Weather. I understand
that Health and Safety Section have been involved
in this. Any workers who are required to do
this should have the work risk assessed before
they do it and any PPE required must be supplied
before the work is done. This is perhaps an
area that should be looked at corporately as
in addition to improved Safety there may also
be savings to be made by bulk purchase of equipment.
Some of the site is occupied by Health and
Social Care workers. Housekeeping and general
tidiness were noticeably poorer than in any
other part of the premises. This would normally
be a relatively low importance issue but there
was significant file storage on top of cabinets.
Lifting heavy boxes that are stored high introduces
either manual handling risks or risk of falls
(from steps or similar equipment).
There was one major issue in this part of
the building; there are fire doors which will
not close. It may be that these doors have been
wedged open in the past and they no longer close
but it is a matter of priority that they are
fixed. I understand that there is a funding
issue caused by a dispute over who would bear
the cost. It is a SfC managed building but the
faulty doors are in a Health and Social Care
area. I would recommend that a corporate decision
is made (if it has not already been made) as
to how urgent Safety issues are resolved when
two parts of the organisation are in dispute
over the funding of a solution. It would be
better that the work is carried out first and
the dispute takes place after.
Chesser House 22 September 2011
I undertook this workplace inspection accompanied
by Building Management. Prior to the inspection
we discussed issues such as asbestos, fire procedures
etc. It is intended that this site will close
at some point in the future and some areas have
been vacated although some staff are still scheduled
to move in.
Workers from just about every part of the Council
are based here. Throughout the building there
were a number of low level problems typical
to similar workplaces. MFDs are sited in working
areas in various parts of the building. These
should be moved away from areas with workers
in close proximity.
Housekeeping is not of a high standard in a
number of areas with items placed on top of
high cabinets. A general housekeeping exercise
would be of benefit. Some of the routes towards
fire exits are used as storage mainly of items
like water bottles. These are apparently uplifted
weekly but a storage system away from fire exits
would be recommended.
Fire doors on floor 6 were not closing. These
require to be fixed. A number of workstations
throughout the building have trailing wires
that need to be resolved either by more sensible
placing of the devices (principally floorstanding
fans) or by a cable management system.
The main issue that workers at this site regularly
complain about is temperature; both that it
is too hot or too cold depending on the conditions
outside and the part of the building where the
worker is based. Unlike Waverley Court it is
easier to maintain temperature control by area
so temperature complaints could be dealt with
more easily by managers here depending on the
problem and the available solutions but this
would not apply to issues with a building aspect
for example the heating system being inadequate
to deal with exceptional cold weather.
A number of windows have been sealed making
opening them impossible. A couple of staff complained
to Building Management as we went round about
windows that weren't working properly. I understand
that further issues around excessive heat have
been reported since the inspection and that
Property Management have agreed that workers
should take breaks from their desk to cool off
by going outside or taking on cool water. If
this problem is not a one off then I would recommend
a Thermal Comfort Risk Assessment be undertaken
by management in the affected areas.
Westwood House 22 September 2011
Westwood House was inspected the same day as
Chesser. It is a very different building occupied
mainly by Children and Families and by staff
on training courses. Other than issues similar
to Chesser in terms of housekeeping nothing
untoward came up.
All inspections carried out by Dave McConnell
except Lothian Chambers which was carried out
by Dave McConnell and Tom Flaherty.
East Neighbourhood Office 13 October 2011
This was the second Neighbourhood Office to
I spent some time discussing Safety issues
with staff based at the site and from SfC Business
Improvement and Performance before undertaking
a walk round the area.
The Asbestos Register was checked; the last
survey in 2009 identified no issues. No chemicals
are used on site other than those held in the
cleaners locked cupboard. Parks staff may use
chemicals off site only and this should be controlled
through the risk assessment of the work.
Some cleanliness issues in the kitchen area
have been raised and tackled locally. Cleaning
work is satisfactory. Annual PAT testing took
place recently. The toilet areas are of an acceptable
standard. I have recommended that a Pregnant
Workers generic Risk Assessment be carried out.
One recent unplanned fire evacuation has taken
place recently. No issues identified during
fire evacuations. There are two paid first aiders
which is in line with HSE recommendations for
an office environment of this size. There was
a recent incident where a customer who had self
harmed had been allowed into the staff area
due to concerns over their health. Management
have decided locally that this shouldn’t
happen again (although any incident would be
dealt with based on the facts at the time and
where there is concern for a customer a quick
on the spot decision would always have to be
No incidents of violence towards staff were
reported and the police are called if required.
Where unacceptable behaviour occurs customers
are barred from being allowed to visit the office
for a period. Housing Officers are required
to make home visits and the risk assessment
of the job should cover measures to remove hazards.
There is an issue concerning the ability of
the gas boiler to function during the winter.
The previous system required ventilation to
operate correctly. The current system does not
but parts of its workings are overexposed to
the cold air because the area has not been boxed
off. Last winter this caused a component to
freeze and cease working. Fixing this by blocking
in the vulnerable part is a high priority in
terms of time. It ideally has to be carried
out very quickly before severe weather hits
and Business Improvement and Performance will
take this up with Property care.
No temporary gas heating is used at the site.
No issues identified with lighting. When heavy
lifting is required trained staff from the Concierge
Service are called in. No machinery is operated
at the site.
Noise issues with servers have been tackled.
Overcrowding is a concern (each member of staff
should have 11 cubic metres of space). Management
advise that a calculation was carried out following
which the Environmental Wardens moved out and
the space standards have been met. I was however
aware that the desks in use are small by customary
office standards and it is important that each
worker has sufficient space to safely carry
out their job. I doubt that more staff could
be comfortably accommodated although this problem
can hopefully be designed out when the office
moves to its new location. Many workers use
computer equipment and they should all undertake
a DSE risk assessment if they have not done
so at their current workstation.
Winter Clothing has been ordered for workers
who require it. This has been done as part of
the central SfC initiative as Policy and Strategy
Committee have decided that this is a Departmental
matter. Housing Staff who carry out visits,
Roads workers and Parks staff will all require
this. It’s important the need has been
decided by a proper risk assessment process
but this is again really a Departmental issue
rather than a site one.
The site is all based on one level; no slips,
trips and falls issues reported. There have
been complaints about temperature as there are
at many Council sites. There are windows on
site that don’t open which can make the
office hot in summer. Management and workers
should follow standard hot weather guidance
in these circumstances.
Leith Neighbourhood Office 2 November 2011
Leith Office is a relatively new Neighbourhood
Office; it is smaller than those inspected to
date and shares premises with the established
Leith Library and Registrars (and Leith Theatre
Asbestos Register (survey completed in 2002)
and Fire Procedures inspected. Currently fire
alarm tests are done on a Saturday (as was the
historical Library practice) but these will
be moved to a weekday to reflect the presence
of the Neighbourhood staff. No recent weekday
evacuations have been undertaken. It would be
useful to undertake a weekday one to confirm
that Neighbourhood workers are familiar with
the process. It is planned to have more signage
added. One issue that needs to be tackled urgently
is the uplift of a large amount of obsolete
furniture etc which is currently piled in the
corridor that leads to the fire exit. SfC Business
Improvement and Performance will take this up
with Library management.
The only chemicals held on site are in the
cleaner’s room and there are no complaints
about the cleaning or the cleanliness of the
PAT testing is done annually and no equipment
other than that usually found in an office environment
is in use. Management will check the number
of first aiders and confirm that they are paid.
For the size of site one should enough but there
is an issue if the first aider is a Neighbourhood
Office worker as the Library would be open at
the weekend and would be uncovered. No accidents
reported in the last year.
No portable gas heating is used. No problems
reported about lighting other than the issue
of glare on VDU screens which would be taken
up through DSE risk assessment. No manual handling
work is undertaken other than the known issue
in the library. As is the practice elsewhere
the handling is undertaken by Central Library
staff on the “book run” so the assessment
would be undertaken by the Central Library.
No machinery is used on site and no problems
have been reported with noise. The office is
not well off for space but measurements have
been taken and the room dimensions standards
have been met. There are items stored on top
of cupboards; this is because of a lack of storage
space. It would be useful if some work could
be done to identify any storage solutions that
could be implemented. PPE will be available
for any workers who have to work outdoors during
severe weather; this is being managed centrally
through the Department. No issues with slips,
trips and falls have been recorded; the toilets
are downstairs but the rest of the site is on
one level. Stress is an issue that will be taken
up at departmental level in the next Survey.
Temperatures inside can be a problem. The heating
is maintained throughout the building. The Neighbourhood
Office is in a small room with a number of staff
all working and using PCs and other electronic
equipment. The library is in a large more sparsely
populated room so the temperature there tends
to be lower but the heating is maintained at
the same level causing excess heat in the Neighbourhood
Office area. The radiators can’t be adjusted.
Enabling them to be adjusted manually would
give these workers more control over the temperature
in that area and Property Care Services should
be instructed to look into this. The toilets
are adequate and there is a small rest area
which is used mainly by Library staff and is
considered adequate. Ventilation is not a problem;
the windows open and the boiler isn’t
in this part of the site.
The Neighbourhood staff use VDUs; DSE risk
assessment training requires to be provided
to allow them to risk assess the workstations.
No issues of violence to staff have been reported.
Workers in the interview rooms use personal
panic alarms which are tested weekly. There
is no significant cash handling and no public
toilets. Risk assessments should be in place
for any visiting staff whose role includes lone
working. A Pregnant Workers generic risk assessment
requires to be undertaken.
South Queensferry 3 November 2011
South Queensferry Office is a small Neighbourhood
Office which shares premises with the South
Queensferry Museum and Registrars.
The asbestos Register was checked; limited
asbestos on site appears to be in good or fair
condition. All chemicals on site are in the
Cleaners cupboard which should ideally be locked.
There is no canteen on site; no issues were
reported over the standard of cleaning which
is done in the evening.
PAT testing is carried out annually and no
electrical items other than normal office equipment
are used. Fire test is carried out weekly. Last
evacuation was in January 2010 so carrying out
another one would be recommended. No fire incidents
There is one first aider on site whose accreditation
has recently expired. She reports that she was
not paid for this. I would recommend retraining
and payment for first aider duties. No accidents
have recently been reported. The gas boiler
was recently replaced and portable gas heating
is not used on site.
Lighting is not a problem within the main working
areas however an issue has arisen in the vestibule
area. The lighting in this area can be switched
off by a switch at the main door and this has
happened in the past most likely by passing
children. This leaves the vestibule area potentially
pitch dark in winter conditions leading to hazards
such as an inability to identify trips and falls
and increased risk to lone workers. There is
to be an inspection carried out around the end
of October to see if corrective action can be
conducted. The switch at the door would still
be needed as that is presumably how workers
switch the light on when arriving in the morning
so perhaps there should be a light that is activated
either by timer or sensor to supplement the
main light or at least reduce the potential
The only manual handling that is carried out
is that of chairs for spectators at ceremonies.
Workers have been trained and chairs are moved
singly. The only machinery noted was the MFD
which is situated at a window away from workstations.
Noise is not a problem. There is not a lot of
space in the Neighbourhood Office area but there
are few workers on site. The office has been
reconfigured to avoid overcrowding. Workers
based on site will not be involved in severe
weather work so no Personal Protective Equipment
appears to be required.
No slips, trips or falls reported. Stress assessments
have not been required (however this is an issue
that will be taken up departmentally). The toilet
facilities are not ideal. There is a shortage
of space but it doesn’t appear to constitute
an obvious hazard. DSE risk assessments have
been carried out. The ventilation on site works
and no problems with fumes exist.
The issue of violence towards staff is different
to larger sites. Only one issue has been recently
reported. It occurred on a Friday afternoon
and the workers had left; only the Cleaner was
still on the premises. The police were called
and dealt with the situation. Most public contact
is either payments (around £1K per day
other than rent days) or is appointment led.
Money is collected by security rather than banked
by staff. The customers are seen in a screened
area. Housing staff who undertake appointments
are based at Chesser so the risk assessment
of the work would lie with their management.
There is a generic risk assessment in place
for pregnant employees and individual ones are
carried out as required.
The museum area was inspected; there is no
intranet access and folders keeping hard copies
of forms are held which is a welcome good practice.
I did observe that a number of these were out
of date so would recommend checking the forms
held against the current versions and replacement
of obsolete forms. The Curator’s office
was also inspected; it is locked and not in
everyday use. There were a couple of issues
of items being stored on top of cupboards and
a housekeeping exercise would be recommended.