Health and safety policy

1. Purpose

1.1 The purpose of this policy is to provide information on the arrangements for managing health and safety at HOS.

1.2 HOS recognises its responsibilities regarding health, safety, and welfare at work in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, all other relevant Health and Safety legislation and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations. The policy sets out how the HOS will comply with these laws and regulations.

2. Scope

2.1 The Health and Safety policy applies to all employees of the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) and any agency staff, secondees, contractors or visitors to any HOS office. For the purposes of this policy the term ‘staff’ includes employees, agency staff and secondees.

2.2 The Health and Safety policy applies to staff who are working from home or from any HOS office.

3. Core principles

  • HOS will maintain a safe and healthy working environment for all our staff and other persons affected by our service.
  • HOS will provide and maintain equipment and places of work that are safe and without risk to health.
  • HOS will provide, as necessary, information, instruction, training, and supervision that is required to ensure the health and safety of its staff.
  • HOS will consult with our staff on matters affecting their health and safety.

4. Policy Statement

4.1 It is the objective of HOS that staff and others be protected, so far as is reasonably practicable, from risks to health and safety arising from work activities. This will be achieved by adopting the provision of safe working systems and appropriate procedures to cater for all significant risks. This policy details the responsibilities of management and staff. These will each be subject to review and revision by management, and discussion with the recognised trade union, Unite.

The responsibility for achieving and adhering to acceptable safety standards rests not only with the Ombudsman but also with staff and others who may work on our behalf, e.g., contractors. Employers are required by law to publish a health and safety policy. It is the duty of all staff not only to read this document carefully but to take an active interest in achieving safety at work, Staff are expected and encouraged to be proactive on health and safety issues as part of the continued development of the health and safety culture of the organisation.

This statement of policy will be reviewed and revised as appropriate to take account of changes in circumstances or in legal requirements.

5. Responsibilities

5.1 The Ombudsman

  • Will ensure that HOS has a clear Health and Safety policy.
  • Will ensure that the relevant organisational arrangements and resources are made available to enable the policy to be implemented and monitored.

5.2 Director of Finance and Corporate Services – Delegated Health & Safety Director

  • Will maintain a broad understanding of relevant Health and Safety legislation and related policy and procedures.
  • Will ensure that there is a clear health and safety policy which is available to all staff and visitors and that the policy is implemented and reviewed at appropriate intervals.
  • Will ensure that staff are adequately trained to perform their roles in a safe manner.
  • Will ensure that adequate numbers of staff with appropriate safety training are available within HOS.
  • Will ensure that the trade union, Unite, appointed health and safety representative is kept fully informed of any issues relating to health and safety.
  • Will ensure that incidents, accidents or ill health involving HOS staff or visitors are adequately investigated and, where necessary, that the appropriate enforcing authority is informed.
  • Will ensure that adequate risk assessments have been conducted into work activities and that they are reviewed periodically.
  • Will liaise with the South Colonnade London Canary Wharf Facilities Team and Citygate Manchester Facilities Team to gain assurance on their health and safety management of the office building including all contractor work carried out.
  • Will ensure that Health and Safety issues are incorporated into the planning of operational tasks through liaison with the designated Health & Safety Officer. This will ensure effective risk management as an integral part of business strategy.
  • Will monitor the effectiveness of the Health and Safety Policy.

5.3 Members of the Leadership Team – Dispute Support and Resolution and QED Directors

  • Will ensure that Health and Safety issues are incorporated into strategic planning to ensure effective risk management as an integral part of business strategy.

5.4 Head of People – Delegated Health & Safety Officer

  • Will maintain a broad understanding of relevant Health and Safety legislation and related policy and procedures.
  • Will monitor Health and Safety matters within the HOS office premises and take corrective action in a timely manner when issues arise which may impact on the health, safety and welfare of staff and visitors.
  • Will carry out regular risk assessments for the office, staff and services, and guide and support managers in completing risk assessments for specific work activities.
  • Will ensure staff are guided in their workstation assessment and escalate concerns to specialist advice where appropriate and arrange for the purchase of necessary equipment.
  • Will ensure that first aid provisions are accessible within HOS offices.
  • Will receive and review accident reports, escalate concerns to designated people and ensure they are securely recorded.
  • Will take action on health and safety issues to ensure the maintenance of a safe and healthy working environment.
  • Will ensure that the organisation has adequate Fire Evacuation procedures in place.

5.5 Line managers

  • Will ensure that members of their team follow health and safety procedures.
  • Will ensure that their staff are competent for their role, and have adequate information, instruction, training and equipment to enable them to undertake their work activities.
  • Will carry out risk assessments for any activity that is not covered by the main office, colleague, and services risk assessment in conjunction with the delegated Health & Safety Officer.
  • Will ensure that risks to members of the public are minimised, and that their area of responsibility maintains a safe environment.
  • Will ensure that a risk assessment occurs to assess the duties of any expectant mother within their team. Please contact the People Team if you require further guidance or support.
  • Will ensure that a risk assessment occurs to assess the duties of any young person within their team (if under the age of 18) e.g., those working as an apprentice or those on work experience. Please contact the People Team if you require further guidance or support.
  • Will ensure that reasonable adjustments are in place to ensure the safe evacuation procedure for a disabled employee if any special needs have been raised. Please contact the People Team if you require further guidance or support.

5.6 Staff

  • Must conform to HOS Health and Safety policy and procedures and to those regulations and Codes of Practice that apply, and actively participate in maintaining a safe working environment.
  • Must familiarise themselves with guidelines regarding safe working practices, and any other information distributed which concerns safety matters.
  • Must report all accidents or incidents that have led or may lead to injury whether occurring in an office or at home.
  • Must refrain from doing anything that constitutes a danger to themselves or others.
  • Must refrain from misusing any equipment provided for health and safety purposes. The HOS Equipment Policy provides more guidance.
  • Must alert their line manager to any potential hazards or risks they have identified in their working environment.
  • Will ensure that visitors to any HOS offices are made fully aware of all arrangements for health and safety that apply to them, including the location of assembly points.
  • Must raise any concerns to their manager or the delegated Health and Safety Officer if a visiting member of the public acts in a manner to cause risk to themselves or others.
  • Employees who are required to work at premises of other organisations are to become fully conversant with the safety rules applicable to the relevant premises. Reasonable
  • Reasonable adjustments are available upon request, to support the needs of employees with disabilities if required. Disabled employees are encouraged to discuss their needs with their line manager or the People Team as soon as possible to enable suitable arrangements, facilities, etc, to be put in place. Where their health condition or impairment could affect their ability to evacuate any HOS offices safely, they must discuss this with their line manager so that the necessary arrangements can be made. Any employee who has a disability (such as mobility or visual impairment), medical condition or a temporary injury that may affect their ability to leave the building safely in the event of an emergency may need a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP). The plan will take account of the assistance required to ensure that the employee is able to evacuate in a safe and timely manner and that the appropriate level of assistance is available. It is the responsibility of the employee and their line manager to inform the GPA Facilities Team at the HOS South Colonnades office, and the PHSO Facilities Team at Citygate offices, as soon as possible and request a PEEP. If the employee is temporarily unable to exit the building on their own quickly, for example, if they are using crutches short term, they must inform their line Manager so that a temporary PEEP can be produced. The employee and the line manager will work with the GPA Facilities Team (or PHSO Facilities Team for the Manchester Citygate offices) to ensure that an agreed PEEP is put in place soon as possible. If a PEEP is required for a visitor, it is important that Facilities Team on site are informed of the visit as far in advance as possible to enable a temporary PEEP to be prepared
  • Expectant mothers should liaise with their manager or the People Team as soon as possible to discuss their health and safety at work, reasonable adjustments will be made where necessary following a risk assessment.

5.7 Visitors

If you are a visitor to any HOS office, you must ensure you take reasonable care for your own and others health and safety and comply with any reasonable instructions, policies and procedure given by the organiastion.

6. Managing health and safety risks arising from work activities

6.1 HOS will undertake risk assessments of all activities carried out and keep a record of the significant findings.

6.2 The aims of risk assessment are to ensure that:

  • The hazards associated with work activities and workplaces are systematically identified.
  • The risks presented by these hazards are assessed, and where applicable special assessments are carried out (e.g., Display screen equipment, Manual handling).
  • Appropriate control measures are implemented to minimise the risks to health and safety of staff, and others who may be affected by work activities.
  • The cost of precautions is kept in balance with the benefits that would arise.
  • Information regarding hazards, risks and precautionary measures identified is effectively communicated to all relevant persons.

6.3 Definitions

‘Risk Assessment’ is the process of identifying the hazards, analysing the level of risk, considering those in danger, and evaluating whether hazards are adequately controlled, taking into account any measures already in place. A ‘hazard’ is anything that has the potential to cause harm, for example, trailing cable, unguarded machine, obstructed fire door. A ‘risk’ is the likelihood that the hazard can cause harm. The extent of the risk depends on:

  • The likelihood of the harm occurring
  • The potential severity of the harm
  • The number and type of people who might be exposed

6.4 Implementation and operation

  • SLT will ensure that risk assessments are carried out and that effective risk control measures are introduced and maintained as required.
  • Managers will focus on the activities undertaken in their areas of control and ensure that adequate risk assessments are carried out.
  • The delegated Health & Safety Officer will keep a record of the risk assessments undertaken and advise managers when reviews are needed.
  • Risk assessments should be reviewed following an accident or incident and when there is a significant change to the work activity or premises.
  • SLT will specify the timing of regular reviews, which will depend on the level of risk. In the low-risk HOS office area, reviews could be carried out annually.

7. Safe premises and equipment

7.1 The HOS offices are located in a building where the landlord has control of the premises. HOS will liaise with the building manager to ensure the workplace is safe and risks are identified, and control measures implemented. Any Building defects at South Colonnade premises should be reported immediately to the Government Property Agency Facilities Team, and any defects at the Citygate Manchester premises should be reported immediately to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) Facilities Team.

7.2 The delegated Health & Safety Officer will be responsible for identifying office equipment requiring maintenance. They will ensure effective maintenance procedures are implemented.

7.3 Please note that anyone visiting the Manchester Citygate office is asked not to bring nuts into the building because there are several staff members that are severely allergic.

8. Fire safety and emergency evacuation

8.1 The delegated Health & Safety Officer will be responsible for liaising with the Government Property Agency (GPA) Facilities Team, and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) Facilities Team to ensure fire risk assessments and control measures are in place.

8.2 Part of the HOS office induction includes the fire evacuation procedure.

9. Accidents, first aid and work-related ill health

9.1 A first aid room is on the ground floor next to Reception at HOS South Colonnade London building. And a list of first aiders can be found in the kitchen at the HOS Manchester Citygate offices.

9.2 All accidents and near misses are to be recorded. In the case of an accident, excluding minor cuts and grazes, the injured party should inform the GPA Facilities Team for any accident at the South Colonnades Building, and the PHSO Facilities Team for any accident at Manchester Citygate Building, and please inform the delegated HOS Health & Safety Officer. All accidents and near misses occurring at in the office or at home should also be reported using the Accident Report Form Template found on Hoogle in the People H&S section.

9.3 If a serious accident occurs, the emergency services should be called. The delegated Health & Safety Officer will notify the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) as necessary.

9.4 Any injury sustained whilst travelling on HOS business should be reported to the delegated Health & Safety Officer who is responsible for investigating accidents or near misses as appropriate to the nature of the incident. Following an accident which has resulted in an injury, or where there was potential for injury, the delegated Health & Safety Officer should interview the person concerned as soon as possible, inspect the site, speak to any witnesses and prepare a report to be presented to SLT.

9.5 The Head of People is responsible for investigating as appropriate work-related causes of sickness absence with advice from an Occupational Health Provider.

10. Occupational Health support

10.1 An occupational health service will be used to provide advice on how to help staff stay in work, or to return to work.

10.2 If a member of staff believes that their work, or some aspect of it, is putting their wellbeing at risk they should, in the first instance, speak to their manager or the Head of People.

11. Health and safety training

11.1 The training information and instruction given by HOS should enable staff to have the necessary knowledge, skills of health and safety issues and relevant legislation appropriate for their work activities. Adequate time will be allowed for staff to acquire the necessary training and experience. Legislation requires that training should consider the needs of new staff and existing staff, changes in work equipment, technology, systems of work and the need for periodic refresher courses.

11.2 Training needs analysis

The Head of People will identify and provide the general health and safety training required by HOS.

11.3 Training Provision

Compliance health and safety training is provided via the CSL Portal e-learning modules. This includes:

A table that shows what modules or training courses are available to staff.

Staff can access the 'fire safety awareness' and 'manual handling' course.

Managers can access the 'fire safety awareness', 'stress in the workplace', 'manual handling' and 'managing health and safety' courses.

All new staff will complete these modules or training at Induction. Existing
staff will repeat the modules as a ‘refresher’ every two years. Other training is provided by specialist providers and where required certificated.

A table that shows that the 'slips, trips and falls' training is available for staff and managers and that the 'using display screen equipment' training is available for staff and managers.

11.4 H&S Training Records

The Head of People will ensure that records are kept of all those who have successfully completed Health and Safety training.

12. Health and safety monitoring

12.1 HOS will monitor the effectiveness of our response to the requirements of legislation and to regularly check our working areas and working methods. HOS will ensure that there are suitable monitoring arrangements undertaken on a regular basis. This will help to ensure that good safety standards are maintained and will help to quickly identify areas of concern and the action needed to control risks.

12.2 The purpose of monitoring:

  • To measure our performance in health and safety.
  • To identify any problem areas and health and safety works requiring attention.
  • To establish budgetary requirements for improving or maintaining safety standards and to allow for appropriate expenditure.
  • To demonstrate regular attention to health and safety and the HOS’s ‘due diligence’ in meeting its responsibilities.
  • To enable HOS to identify measures to continually improve its health and safety management.

12.3 Implementation and operation

Monitoring of HOS health and safety arrangements will be carried out by regular inspections/checks of the working areas to identify whether risk control measures are effective and whether any further action is needed to improve safety.

An annual report will be prepared for the Ombudsman and Leadership Team that details the monitoring undertaken and actions taken, and any recommendations for improving our overall approach to health and safety.