East of England Ambulance Unison
Branch Health & Safety Officer
End of Year Report – 2018
Memories of the extended summer have rapidly faded as the Scandinavian winds start chilling the landscape causing motorists to reassess their vehicle anti-freeze and load the car boot with blankets and shovels, pre-empting the issues of deep snow and gridlocked highways. It also serves as a timely reminder to look back over the past twelve months to see how we have progressed in the world of health, safety and welfare.
After several months of design and development, four different conceptual ambulances were produced each with a different patient saloon area configuration and with different stretchers & carry chairs for staff to evaluate out on the road. A positive move away from two wheeled carry chairs was envisioned and staff feed back was collated in order to formulate the final design which the Trust plans to move forward with.
A small group was established to review the current uniform being worn by employees and an initial risk assessment established the tasks regularly undertaken by Trust employees and the wide-ranging environments which they are expected to work in. Having established that the present uniform is not fit for purpose, the group have been tasked to take the next steps which is how to rectify the situation and what if any changes are required to improve the uniform. A lightweight polo shirt has authorised for issue to staff and with visions of a brutally cold winter, the Trust authorised the purchase of a wind and waterproof jacket to protect the employees and these were delivered in time for Christmas.
The Trust announced that it was planning to introduce body worn cameras and dashcams in ambulances and Unison health & Safety agreed that they were a positive step forward with regard to crew safety and the prevention of fraudulent claims against the trust from dishonest motorists. Trials of both camera types have been undertaken in different ambulance services across the country and the results are eagerly awaited. In the mean–time, the proposed new ambulance has safety cameras incorporated within the vehicle design specification and these will remain dormant until the Trust has agreed an acceptable Policy and Procedure for the management of them.
Unison Health & Safety was active within the Fire Safety group which was established to standardise and improve fire safety across the entire Trust. Positive steps have been made working closely with Clive Radestock, Head of Estates, and this includes the provision of Fire Safety Log Books being purchased and provided for all Trust premises, commencement of Fire & Safety Warden training and also improvements with regard to escape routes and their signage. Fire evacuation drills are also to be tested regularly.
Improvements to the Datix system means that when employees raise a report, the Health and Safety Officer will be notified if the originator makes the request by ticking the box. This should help expedite the following up of incidents by safety reps.
A comprehensive check of the roads and distances between major hospitals in the east was carried out which established where the physical halfway points / turnarounds are located. This information was gathered to help relieve some A&E departments by crews taking patients to other “nearer” hospitals and was provided to the Trust but any changes to the current system requires approval of the commissioners.
Throughout the year there have been numerous issues raised by employees and these have included:
A combined strategy has been proposed to ensure that every Trust property is inspected in 2019 by a Unison safety representative.
Unison is always seeking to recruit more safety representatives and any Unison member that is interested in becoming a safety rep’ is encouraged to contact their nearest Unison representative for further information. Elections and re-election of safety reps’ is conducted annually and once elected the candidates are provided with formal training and mentor support whilst they gain their confidence. Training is normally carried out at an approved training centre and funded by Unison. Workplace stewards are also elected / re-elected annually and any Unison member interested in becoming a workplace steward is encouraged to contact their nearest steward for further information. Details can also be obtained from our branch website.
Safety reps’ and stewards are entitled to attend the LPF meetings (Local Partnership Forum) where local issues are discussed and hopefully resolved at local level.
East of England Ambulance Unison
Branch health & Safety Officer
3 January 2019