Health & Safety Postbag September 2019

Health & Safety Postbag – September 2019

The summer months have seen an increased spike in the number of calls received by the service, the new Fiat Ambulances are starting to appear at stations & depots across the region and the formal training of road staff by the authorised Trainers will ensure compliance with the PUWER regulations.

Concerns have been raised by employees about the risks to health from the RFID equipment being installed in DSA’s to assist in the management of equipment. The matter was reviewed at length during the specification stages of the new ambulances and no issues were flagged that might give rise to concerns. Similar equipment is employed within the commercial sector and we are not aware of any cases where employees have suffered ill health attributed to the RFID equipment. Unison H&S will continue to monitor the situation and widen its area of research. Meanwhile we are working with the Trust on a Risk Assessment which we hope will be finalised soon.

Members of staff employed within NES / PTS have raised their concerns regarding the increase in patient carrying capacity in some of their ambulances. An SOP is being drafted which will address the carrying capacity of the ambulances and the “exceptional” use of the stretcher by ambulatory patients.

The time is right for a brief reminder about the agreed criteria which covers the different stand by locations and facilities.

Dynamic Activation Post (DAP) are agreed locations where the crew will have access to toilets & drinks. The crew can be assigned to stand by at DAP’s for a maximum of 45 minutes and their next stand by location should be a Response Post.

Response Posts are locations where there are no time limits on how long the crew can be on stand-by because the location has a full range of facilities to enable the crew to relax and has the necessary furniture to enable the crew to eat their meals at a table.

Reporting Posts are agreed facilities similar to Response Posts but have additional facilities to enable crews to start and finish their shifts there such as showers, changing rooms, lockers, PCs and secure storage for drugs and confidential documents.

There is no agreement for “roaming” or “roving” stand-by’s.

The Trust relies heavily upon the Datix System as a means for reporting accidents, adverse incidents or injuries at work and can be made over the phone via SPOC or on a Trust PC. The Datix system is also a method of auditing to identify trends and also how widespread or localised certain issues are so the importance of raising a Datix report cannot be overemphasised.

When raising a Datix report, a prompt will ask if you wish your health and safety rep to be made aware of the incident. To enable Unison health & safety to follow up your report it is most important that you indicate YES in the answer box. Including your base station in the narrative will assist in following up your report and making contact sooner rather than later.

A change in the Law relating to the use of hands-free phones and data systems in road vehicles is currently being reviewed by the Commons Transport Select Committee. Unison Health and Safety will remain alert for any changes or developments which may have impact on ambulance crews with regard to the use of communication or navigation equipment.


There has been a rise in the number of sharps incidents which have occurred when glass ampoules have been “broken” open without the use of a device. Staff are reminded that these devices should be within the cannulation packs and used to prevent personal injury.

To comply with legislation, a new Imagery Policy is being drafted which will cover the installation, use, storage and access to digital images which may be captured on Body Worn Cameras, Dash-Cams and vehicle all round safety cameras. Members of staff are to be reassured that until such time that the policy has been approved and signed off, the recording devices cannot be activated or used.

The Paediatric Restraints which are currently part of the ambulance loading lists should now be referred to a Paediatric Harnesses given that we do not “restrain” paediatrics.

The new four-wheeled stair chairs which will come into service with the Fiat ambulances are designed to power up / down stairways thereby grossly removing the overall amount of lifting that ambulance crews may need to undertake. Likewise, the powered self-loading stretcher will also reduce the physical effort and both devices should bring about a reduction in staff injuries related to manual handling of patients.

Drivers Responsibilities: Drivers are responsible for the condition of their vehicle and the security of their load. If the vehicle is defective or damaged then it must be recorded in the vehicle Defect Log Book and reported to the supervisor / manager. If the damage or defect renders the vehicle unusable or unsafe then it should not be driven on the highway. All persons carried or conveyed in the vehicle must comply with current seatbelt regulations and this includes ensuring that the side seats in the rear of the ambulance are facing forward when occupied.

Slips Trips & Falls: There is a significant difference between the entry height of a car and an ambulance and because of this much has been written about the safest way to exit ambulances. “Facing Inwards” provides the employee with clear vision of where hands can secure a grip and where feet are being placed, in similar fashion to descending a step ladder. When exiting the front cab always ensure the seatbelt is clear of the arm and that clothing does not snag on fixtures or handles. The same technique should be applied when exiting via the rear patient saloon area steps. If there is a sloping ramp then it is generally accepted that it is safe to walk forwards.

The Trust carries out Risk Assessments on a multitude of activities but there are times where there is a need for employees to carry out a dynamic risk assessment when an incident arises during their time at work. The dynamic risk assessment may be related to gaining access to a patient, entering a particular location or property and the outcome is based upon the dynamic risk assessment having been carried out by the employee at the time when the incident arose. This dynamic risk assessment should not be challenged by other persons who may have a wider or greater knowledge or experience, or at a later time when circumstances have altered.

It has become apparent that not all employees are aware that the Airwave radios can be used as an additional safety device. The radios have Ambient Listening capability and when the user contacts their Control Centre to request this, control are able to listen into what is being said and allows them to send support if they believe the situation requires back. Control are NOT authorised or allowed to randomly listen in on crews and all requests for Ambient Listening are taken seriously and escalated to senior management.


Tyre Changes: When wheels have been removed to facilitate servicing or tyre changes the wheel nuts must be tightened to the manufacturers’ pressure using a torque wrench. A safety notice must be prominently attached in the crew cab stating “This vehicle is required to cover 50K or 30 miles under normal road conditions after which the wheel nuts must be re-torqued to ensure they have not loosened”. Until the wheel nuts have been re-torqued the vehicle must NOT be used to respond under emergency road conditions.

Health & Safety Committee: The Trust has an active health and safety committee who meet at quarterly intervals. In support of the committee, the Health & Safety Working Group undertakes a lot of groundwork and investigation into issues raised by the main committee or by members of staff. The dates for future meetings have been agreed and these are:

Health & Safety Committee:

2019: ​​25 September

2020: ​​ 8 January    ​8 April    ​1 July    ​​14 October

Health & Safety Working Group:

2019:​​23 October​

2020:​​12 February​6 May​​29 July​​11 November

Attendance at the above meetings is expected of the Health & Safety County Leads or their nominated Deputies

Unison is seeking more Safety Representatives and any Unison member can stand for election as a safety rep’ for their workplace. If YOU are interested in becoming a safety representative please send an email to stating where you are based and include your Unison membership number. Safety representative undergo a five day TUC training course and are supported by their County Health & Safety Lead as well as the Branch Health and Safety Officer. Being a safety rep is very rewarding as you can help make positive changes to the health, safety and welfare of your colleagues.

Jeff Pittman

Senior Paramedic

Waveney Depot

Unison Health & Safety Officer



Pause for thought:


Today is the Tomorrow we worried about Yesterday, but all is well.