The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager introduced the report which provided an update on the management of health and safety in the Service. He highlighted to Members the key achievements of the Service during 2019-20.
A small increase in the number of minor accidents had been reported, however, there had been a small decrease in the number of incidents that had to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive. There was a decrease in the number of duty days lost as a result of accidents and a decrease in the number of accidents involving service vehicles. In addition a small decrease in the number of reported attacks and abuse directed at staff was noted. Time had been spent focussing on the risks that firefighters face related to cancer following the publication of the University of Central Lancashire’s research report and this would now be considered in more detail. There had been a review of the risk assessments and the associated procedures and the additional hazards and risks associated with Covid-19. The final quarter of the year saw the Covid-19 pandemic start to take effect across the country and the Service took immediate action to identify measures that would reduce the risks to staff and their families and still allow statutory obligations to be met.
The Service continued to deliver Managing Safety Courses with 100% success rate. The Service had introduced a subgroup of the Health and Safety Committee to focus on the de-contamination of firefighters and operational kit. Initially, focussing on decontamination after fire incidents, the group also looked at the provision of suitable protective clothing and procedures for decontamination of both the kit and the fire appliances following incidents as a result of Covid.
The Service had employed a Health and Wellbeing Advisor to help improve the management of mental health in the service and that had proved very successful.
Reporting of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences saw 5 reported during the year, 4 of these were as a result of injuries and known as over 7 day injuries where an individual is off for more than 7 consecutive days following an injury. None of these were as a result of significant injuries, with only 1 dangerous occurrence reported (which related to breathing apparatus).
The Health and Safety Executive considers accident rates based on the number per 100,000 employees and the data from 2016-17 to 2019-20 shows that the Service’s reportable accident rate is approximately 450. The average reportable accident rate for fire and rescue services in the North West is 767 and nationally, the rate is 1,230, so the Service is performing considerably better than other services. The national reportable accident rate for all employers in 2019-20 was 230 which does make the Service look quite poor. However, the Health and Safety Executive does recognise that their reporting figures are artificially low. The labour force survey is general seen as more accurate with a national rate of 430, much closer to the Service’s.
It was noted that there was a slight increase in the reporting of minor accidents which went from 43 up to 51.
The Service’s accident reports for 2019-20 show that most of the accidents resulted from slips, trips and falls, with manual handling being the next most common cause. This picture mirrors the picture nationally and across all industries in the country.
During 2019-20 there was a slight reduction in reports of violence and aggression towards staff.
Vehicle accidents show an improvement. A small sub group of the Health and Safety Committee regularly looks at what improvements can be introduced and there had been a successful campaign to reduce the number of incidents where Service vehicles have been driven in excess of the speed limit.
The Service aims to test every operational firefighter annually to ensure that they meet the minimum standard of fitness and those who fall below that are taken through a programme with the aim of getting them back on the run as quickly as possible. It was noted that the investment that the Fire Authority had made in fitness equipment and gyms over preceding years was starting to pay off.
A Member asked about planning legislation and consultation regarding new developments where roads were narrow and no, or limited, parking was provided.
The Health and Safety Manager responded that this point was very important as most of the Service’s minor accidents tended to occur on small side roads and with the Government apparently keen to ban parking on pavements the problem would only get worse. The Director of Governance and Commissioning suggested that this should be considered further outside the meeting with a view to reporting back.
 the Annual Health, Safety and Wellbeing Report 2019-20 be noted.