Health & Safety postbag January 2020

Health & Safety Post Bag – January 2020

The new Skoda Scout RRV’s should be rolling out by now and the specification includes several changes and improvements. The base vehicle comes with Lane Deviation Warning, Driver Fatigue Monitor and Auto-Braking as standard features. Behind the driver’s seat is dedicated cage for PPE and also an electric cooler box for food & drink. Access to the crew PPE can be achieved from offside or nearside to improve crew safety. As with all new vehicles staff should undertake training on the vehicle, take it for a familiarisation drive and the user manual should be read in order to become fully conversant with the Scout.

Following a review by Fiat of tyre wear on the new Fiat ambulances lower tyre pressureshave been advised and these changes will be implemented by drivers as part of their VDI andMake Ready staff who will also update the tyre pressure labels on the vehicles.

Concerns have been raised by a number of staff that the new Fiat road horn does not sound when the emergency sirens are in use and questioned if this meant the vehicle was not compliant with road law. After following this up it has been confirmed that the road horn on the new Fiat and the existing Mercedes ambulances in this Trust are still serviceable and road legal because the road horn is not broken. The purpose of the road horn and the emergency sirens are to warn other persons and road users of the vehicles presence and when the sirens are not selected the road horns still functions as intended.

With regard to the new Fiat DSA mandatory training: Included within the package is using the powered stair chair which should be conducted on a full flight of stairs with a volunteer seated on it or a similar load and employees are entitled to take the Fiat for a familiarisation drive in order to understand the handling characteristics. If staff require further training on any aspect of the training package, they should request it at the time. When satisfied that they are confident and competent they should then complete the sign-off documents.

When the pre-owned Fiat van conversion ambulances (which do not have emergency blue lights fitted) were procured, their role was to meet the demands for non-emergency Urgent work and were to be crewed by 2nd / 3rd year students who would receive back up if required. The ambulances are not fitted out to carry a Corpuls, do not have adequate screens to maintain the privacy & dignity of the patient and should not be used in an emergency capacity. The winch has an extension system attached but these extensions should be disconnected and stowed away in the locker when not in use. Any loose items can become harmful objects if the vehicle carries out any sudden or rapid manoeuvres so no loose items should be placed on vehicles. When carrying out the mandatory roadworthy checks and the VDI, crews should physically check that the winch and extensions enable the stretcher to be fully removed from the ramp. Crews that are to work on these vehicles must be shown the correct and approved method of attaching the extensions before being assigned to any calls.Unison has raised this with the Trust and is waiting for a response.

Staff are reminded that the Datix system is to be used to report any adverse incidents. By completing a Datix report it alerts the Trust to the issue and enables the Audit team to assess the frequency of incidents and also if they are a Trust wide issue. Raising a Datix may also prevent a repeat incident or another person becoming injured.

There should be a Vehicle Defect Log Book in every vehicle in which crews should record any defects which arise during their shift. The log book is not transferrable between vehicles and should be checked as part of the VDI. It has been noted that a number of vehicles do not have these Log Books and this is being addressed.

Concerns were raised via the Health & Safety committee that a number of employees are commencing their mandatory roadworthy checks and vehicle daily inspections of ambulances up to 30 minutes before the start of their rostered shift. The reasons given included that the 15 minutes was not a realistic amount of time. These employees are carrying out work-related tasks but are under the impression that they cannot claim this as overtime because their early start has not been authorised. Unison has raised this matter with the Trust and is waiting for a response.

Clarification about the use and role of nurses on emergency ambulances has been raised with the Trust and we are waiting for a response.

Concerns have been raised due to an increase in the number of manual handling injuriesbeing reported which happened as a result of moving patients on old-styled carry chairs. The first wave of Fiat DSA’s were provided with a powered stair chair and a non-tracked carry chair as an alternative option. Crews that were not able to use the powered chair and recognised the carry chair was not best suited, requested back up. However, faced with excessively long waits for back up, crews reluctantly used the carry chair and injuries were sustained. A request has been made to retain a number of tracked carry chairs from Mercedes ambulances due for decommissioning, for use on new Fiat DSA’s but this has not yet been approved. Unison Health & Safety is working towards an acceptable resolution and will keep this closely monitored.

Jeff Pittman

Senior Paramedic

Unison Health & Safety Officer