Our annual landlord survey is now open. The results will feed into this year’s annual complaints review which provides an analysis of the sector’s performance. Link to survey.

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, and to demonstrate management’s commitment to managing this for all colleagues and contractors 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 the HOS office. For the purposes of this policy the term ‘staff’ includes employees, agency staff and secondees.

2.2 The Health and Safety policy also applies to staff who are working from home or remotely from the office.

3. Core principles

• HOS will maintain safe and healthy working conditions for all our staff and other persons affected by our service and demonstrate this through the way we work and behave as well as through policies and procedures

• HOS will provide safe and appropriate working environment and equipment, welfare facilities and operating processes and safe systems of work covering all of activates so far as is reasonably practicable

• HOS will provide adequate control of the health and safety risks arising from our work activities

• HOS will ensure safe handling and use of equipment and substances

• HOS will aim to prevent accidents and cases of work-related ill health through how we monitor risk assessment and organise and manage our working environment and conditions

• HOS will provide information and to ensure all staff are competent to do their tasks, and to give them adequate instruction, supervision and training

• HOS will consult with our staff on matters affecting their health and safety

4. Health and Safety Policy Statement

4.1 It is the objective of HOS that staff and others be protected, so far as is reasonably foreseeable, from risks to health and safety arising from work activities. Adequate resources will be provided to meet this objective. We will set out safe working systems and appropriate procedures to cater for all risks. This policy details 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, eg contractors. Employers are required by law to publish a 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, and HOS encourages all members of staff to familiarise themselves with the current health and safety policy and guidance. The successful implementation of this policy is dependent upon us working as One Team with whole-hearted co-operation of all levels of staff and management. 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 Performance – Delegated Health & Safety Director

• Will ensure that there is a clear health and safety policy which is available to all staff and that the policy is implemented and reviewed at appropriate intervals.

• Will ensure that staff are adequately trained to perform their jobs in a safe manner.

• Will ensure that adequate numbers of staff with appropriate fire or first aid training are available within HOS at all times.

• Will ensure that the trade union, Unite, appointed health and safety representative is involved in all health and safety activity and is kept fully informed of any issues relating to health and safety.

• Will ensure that near miss incidents, accidents or ill health involving HOS staff are adequately investigated, that the appropriate enforcing authority is informed where necessary and that lessons are learned and implemented.

• Will lead on the annual organisational risk assessment review and ensure appropriate controls are in place or put in place.

• Will liaise with Exchange Tower building management via the Financial Ombudsman Service Facilities Team to gain assurance on the health and safety management of the office building overall including all contractor work carried out.

• Will ensure that Health and Safety issues are incorporated into the planning of operational activities through liaison with the designated Health & Safety Officer. This will ensure effective risk management as an integral part of day-to-day operations.

• Will monitor the effectiveness of the Health and Safety Policy and report on issues/performance monthly.

5.3 Members of the Leadership Team

• Will demonstrate leadership in health and safety.

• 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 HR – Delegated Health & Safety Officer

• 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.

• Will participate in the annual organisational risk assessment and support managers in completing any additional risk assessments for specific work activities.

• Will monitor to ensure that the organisation has adequate numbers of suitably trained first aid and fire warden staff

• Will ensure that the content of first aid kits is regularly monitored.

• Will receive and review accident reports, investigate where necessary and escalate concerns to designated people.

• Will take action on health and safety issues to ensure the maintenance of a safe and healthy working environment.

5.5 Line managers

• Will ensure that members of their team follow health and safety procedures.

• Will ensure that their staff have completed mandatory annual online training promptly and are provided with adequate information, instruction 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 organisational 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 maintain a safe environment.

• Will complete mandatory annual online training themselves promptly.

5.6 Staff

• Will complete mandatory annual online training promptly.

• Will conform to HOS Health and Safety procedures and to those regulations and Codes of Practice that apply, and actively participate in maintaining a safe working environment.

• Will familiarise themselves with guidelines regarding safe working practices, and any other information distributed which concerns safety matters.

• Will report all accidents or incidents that have led or may lead to injury to a first aider and record these in the accident log.

• Will refrain from doing anything that constitutes a danger to themselves or others.

• Will refrain from misusing any equipment provided for health and safety purposes.

• Will alert their line manager to any potential hazards or risks they have identified in their working environment.

• Will raise any concerns to their manager or the delegated Health and Safety Officer if a member visiting member of the public acts in a manner to cause risk to themselves or others

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

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 for activities not covered by the organisational risk assessment.

• 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.

7. Safe premises and equipment

7.1 The HOS office is located in a building where the landlord has control of the premises. HOS will liaise with the building manager via FOS to ensure the work place is safe and risks are identified and control measures implemented. Building defects should be reported immediately to the Financial Ombudsman Service 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.

8. Fire safety and emergency evacuation

8.1 The delegated Health & Safety Officer will be responsible for liaising with Financial Ombudsman Service Facilities Team for ensuring fire risk assessments and control measures are in place.

8.2 HOS has its own Fire Marshalls and appropriate training is provided. In the event of a fire the Fire Marshalls will ensure the evacuation of the HOS office and take instruction from the Financial Ombudsman Service Lead Fire Marshall.

9. Accidents and first aid

9.1 HOS is responsible for its own First Aid provision and First Aiders, and is supported by access to the Financial Ombudsman Service first aid facilities including sick rooms.

9.2 The first aid box is kept by First Aiders and is stored in a marked locker in the kitchen area.

9.3 Names, internal telephone numbers of first aiders are displayed at office notice points and are available in the E-library.

9.4 All accidents, near misses are to be recorded in the accident book. The book is kept securely by the delegated Health & Safety Officer in the First Aid locker.

9.5 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.

9.6 In the case of an accident, excluding minor cuts and grazes, the first aider should also inform the delegated Health & Safety Officer.

9.7 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.

9.8 Following an accident which has resulted in an injury, or where there was potential for injury, the delegated Health & Safety Officer should investigate which may include interviewing the person concerned as soon as possible, inspecting the site, speaking to any witnesses and preparing a report to be presented to SLT.

10. Work-related ill health

10.1 The Head of HR is responsible for monitoring and investigating, as appropriate, work-related causes of sickness absence with advice from an Occupational Health Provider. This advice may cover 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 HR & OD Manager.

10.3 The Head of HR will review data from the HR system and return to work forms to identify potential issues and take appropriate action. The Head of HR will also support line managers and colleagues in completing work related stress risk assessments and in monitoring the actions agreed.

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 take into account 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 Compliance health and safety training is mainly provided via the CSL Portal e-learning modules. These are:

Training module/course 1

In addition, the homeworking checklist and online DSE assessment included in the annex to the Homeworking Policy must be completed by all colleagues.

All new staff will complete these modules or training at Induction. Existing staff will repeat the modules as a ‘refresher’ annually.

Other training is provided by specialist providers and where required certificated.

Training module/course 2

11.3 The Head of HR will administer and keep records 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. This will help to ensure that good safety standards are maintained and will help to identify quickly 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

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 and actions taken, and any recommendations for improving our overall approach to health and safety. This will also include the health and safety policy, updated as necessary, and the reviewed and revised organisational risk assessment.

Health and safety incidents will be reported monthly via the Performance on Page report which is provided to OMT and SLT and all colleagues via the Colleague Briefing.

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