Resident Scrutiny Team Report - Health & Safety review (June 2018)

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The team decided to review Derwent Livings approach to health and safety. With a view to making recommendations for improvements where needed; with a particular focus on customer communication, reporting of H&S issues, staff training and fire safety processes post Grenfell.

The RST used a variety of methods to gain information on DL’s approach to Health & Safety. 

This included the following:

  • Meeting with members of staff in appropriate departments to discuss their roles and remit in terms of health and safety regulation and practices; staff included – Darren Corke, Mark Kavanagh and Craig Imlach. The RST were able to pose questions to staff members, and view documents used by staff as part of the health and safety practices.
  • The RST were also provided with a variety of documents and information regarding different policies and procedures which link into health & safety, or areas where health & safety is an important consideration. The team commented that, Derwent Living clearly do take Health and Safety seriously and the information provided proves this.
  • The team also looked at Derwent Living’s website for H&S info and were not able to find anything specific. However this is similar to other associations, a number of which were checked and only one, Riverside, came close to providing a reference.  The RST wouldn't expect anything too detailed, however consideration may be given to providing a link to further info, or a statement regarding health & safety.

A member of the RST also took part in a scheme audit, visiting a site with Darren Corke. The member was able to make report the following:

A Visit to Appleby Court, Derby took place on 2nd May. This was to carry out a check on communal areas of Fire Safety. This for me was a most valuable exercise. The check was done in the company of the scheme manager.  It was clear there was a good working relationship between the two.  Both were happy to answer any questions I had. Appleby Court provides accommodation for people either over 55 or over 40 if they have disability issues. Darren checked thoroughly door seals and whether the fire doors closed properly.

He found several doors where though the top shut properly there were gaps at the bottom. All alarms were tested. A check was made in the room to be designated as a games room. We went on to the laundry for an inspection which included the wiring. 

There was a check made of Derwent Living's fire safety policy to see if it was up to date. Records have to be kept for 3 years but Darren explained that records are now starting to be kept electronically. We also looked at the lift motor room which was in order.

The Inspection took about 1 and a quarter hours. Darren recorded his findings on an electronic device.  He said it would take him about 2 hours to write up his report.  He identified some things that needed doing.  I asked what happens after that.  The findings are given to Mark Kavanagh as compliance officer and he is given 30 days to ensure work is carried out. 

Darren, at the end of that time, then goes back to Appleby Court to check the work has been done. We did not go into what happens if it hasn't been done.  However I suspect a fuss would be made to put it mildly. 

I notice part of our remit is to look at communications with tenants. As we were moving around the building I looked at various notice boards which I am pleased to report were up to date and contained relevant information.  Signage for Fire Exits was excellent.  The corridors were well lit.

Darren told me he carries out some 300 Inspections a year. Given his background in fire safety I have no doubt he carries out his duties in a thorough conscientious manner. 

A member of the RST also had a discussion with their Resident Manager about their role in terms of H&S. They were able to report the following:

I had a lengthy conversation with one of Derwent Living's Residential Managers about Health and Safety matters in relation to the areas we as a panel were looking at. I was aware that we are not looking specifically at Vulnerable Tenants but in one or two areas the subject did appear in our discussions.

The Manager told me she had since January completed 24 OLAS courses. Managers are required to achieve a certain minimum standard in these training modules and I am pleased to report that the Manager achieved that mark and in fact she recorded 100% correct on most of the modules. To verify this I checked the certificates and their dates.  Apparently Derwent Living has a computer system that tells dates when these modules have to be completed by and failure to do them is reported up the line.  I was told that the OLAS courses are supplemented by In house Training.

I am told First Aid Training is compulsory for all Residential Managers and is refreshed every three years. Managers keep an accident book. Compliance Audits are completed once a month. Managers working from home are required to log on and off duty. They also have a one to one with their line manager every month in which amongst other things records are checked. Also once a month there is a Managers' meeting plus a team meeting every other month.

With regard to how safe the Manager feels she is happy with no concerns. I was told that if going into a flat or house poses any kind of risk the Manager would go with a colleague to the site. I asked about lines of communication and again she is happy that in contacting head office she knows who is who. Regular staff bulletins report on any changes.

In conclusion I formed the impression of an organisation taking Health and Safety seriously with an Audit Trail. It is emphatically not a tick box exercise. 

Conclusions 

  • The RST felt that the approach from Derwent Living to health & safety matters was thorough and taken seriously in all aspects. 
  • The team noted that repairs reported that could pose a risk to health & safety are treated as an emergency, and felt this was the correct steps to take to prevent potential injury or harm. 
  • The team are confident that training and health & safety awareness is common place throughout the organisation as 137 staff have completed a variety of H&S related training in the past 12 months. In addition role specific training has included lone working training, Fire Marshall training and First aid training for some staff on ad-hoc basis. 
  • There were positive comments made regarding gritting provisions at retirement schemes during cold weather spells. 
  • The team also felt that the ways in which near misses are reported shows good practice, and again helps to identify potential further risks, and eliminate these where possible. 
  • The RST would also like to comment that H&S is also part of the tenants responsibility, and that they also have a part to play in keeping areas clear, and reporting repairs which may have health and safety implications.

Recommendations 

The RST make the following recommendations: 

  • Include information on the website on Derwent Living approach to Health & Safety, whether in the form of a statement, or copies of policies and procedures. If this is already present it needs to be more prominent or easy to find.
  • Communicate to the wider customer group, that H&S is the responsibility of all; not just to act in a responsible manner and make considerations for the health and safety of themselves, and their neighbours, but also to report repair issues and making sure that their actions within their properties do not pose a risk to others.

Scrutiny team felt the Health & Safety advice featured in the Derwent Life column was positive and would like to see this continue and ensure it is a regular feature in all editions.