Management of health, safety and welfare: HMFSI inspection outline

Thematic inspection by HM Fire Service Inspectorate (HMFSI) of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Management of its health, safety and welfare – operational focus. 

Inspectors within HM Fire Service Inspectorate (HMFSI) have the scrutiny powers specified in section 43B of The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. These include inquiring into the state and efficiency of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), its compliance with its duty to secure Best Value, and the manner in which it is carrying out its functions.

HMFSI operates within, but independently of, the Scottish Government. 

Our approach is to support the SFRS to deliver services that are high quality, continually improving, effective and responsive to local needs.

Terms of reference and the purpose of this inspection

This Inspection Outline sets out the terms of reference in respect of a Thematic Inspection into the SFRS’s management of its Health, Safety and Welfare – Operational focus. The emphasis is on the management, planning, training and emergency response environments. However, as our inspection fieldwork develops we may wish to include other related areas.

An inquiry by the Inspectorate can be self-directed or can be subject to direction by Scottish Ministers. This inquiry into the SFRS is self-directed by the Chief Inspector. The decision to carry out this inspection is influenced by our findings in previous thematic and local area inspections, and the challenges facing the SFRS during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

We will look at the organisational culture towards Health, Safety and Welfare and whether Health and Safety is centred on firefighter safety and that operational staff understand and can demonstrate how the ‘firefighter safety maxim’ is being achieved in SFRS. We will also consider how the Service is using national learning, data and other information to reduce risk and improve the overall safety and welfare of its staff.

The aim of this inspection is to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the Service’s governance and management, policy and planning, training and recording with an operational focus. We will consider the extent of the following aspects of Health, Safety and Welfare:

  • evidence of an embedded positive health and safety culture
  • meets identified legislative general duties and guidance document requirements 
  • the organisation has a structure, is adequately resourced, has qualified people, is aware of its responsibilities, and resources are able to meet requirements 
  • active participation by an engaged workforce at all levels including the SFRS Board 
  • an effective management and recording system; including evaluation and relevant performance and benchmarking measures
  • proactive as well as reactive monitoring systems are in place
  • sufficient resilience exists in systems and resources
  • awareness of the organisation’s risks and that they are managed effectively
  • operational training
  • enables operational staff to remain effective and safe when responding to emergency incidents. Demonstrating a “Risks V Benefits” culture
  • respond to operational and training accidents and incidents effectively and efficiently to assist learning. Demonstrating how learning is shared and improvements monitored and managed
  • systems the Service has to support the workforce in managing their welfare
  • examples of how Operational Assurance has improved H and S and organisational learning to improve service response.

 Documents used for informing objectives

  • Managing for health and safety (HSG65, Third edition, 2013)
  • Leading Health and Safety at work
  • The Health and Safety toolbox; How to control risks at work
  • Health and Safety made simple; The basics for your business
  • HMFSI thematic inspections and Local Area Inspection reports
  • Striking the balance between operational health and safety duties in the Fire and Rescue Service (HSE guidance, March 2010)
  • Investigating accidents and incidents (HSG245, 2004)
  • National Operational Learning good practice guide
  • Joint Organisational Learning guidance (October, 2017)

Out of scope for review

  • workplace H and S - H and S in the workplace is excluded from this inspection, the cultural assessment should be a sufficient indicator of the likely H&S issues that would emerge if these were included
  • specific legislative duties - legislation such as DSE, noise, COSHH, manual handling,  and other such legislation with specific duties are excluded due to time available
  • occupational Health (OH) - whilst welfare is considered, the detailed provisions and effectiveness of OH are excluded due to inspection time available


When undertaking this inspection, we will follow similar guidelines as those within the Local Area Inspections and previous Thematic Inspections.  This inspection framework will provide a structure to our inspection which will be risk-based, proportionate and focussed on assessing the management and maintenance of Health, Safety and Welfare - Operational focus within the SFRS across Scotland. We will structure our inspection around five main themes within the Service:

  • organisational culture and compliance
  • investigation and organisational learning
  • risk reduction and safety improvements
  • monitoring and data management
  • improved service delivery in response

This inspection will commence with a desktop review of the SFRS’s data, policy and procedures, requesting information and assistance from the Service. This will be complemented by interviews and site visits.

This will include interviews with:

  • SFRS Board member (lead/champion) 
  • ACO - Director of Service Delivery
  • ACO – Director of Training, Safety and Assurance
  • Head of Safety and Assurance and other S&A staff
  • representative bodies and other staff groups
  • senior and middle managers (Directorate and Service Delivery)
  • Service Delivery Area Health and Safety Lead Officers (Area Commanders)
  • Service Delivery Group Commanders with Health, Safety Liaison Officer reference
  • Station and Directorate based supervisory managers (WC and CCs)
  • firefighters
  • third party investigators

During the course of this inspection there may be a need to interview individuals not identified in the list above.

The inspection will be delivered in four stages, some of which will be undertaken concurrently.

The engagement process with SFRS will commence in January 2021, policy, document and data review will commence in quarter 1, 2021, with the aim of providing a final report by quarter 4 of 2021/22. This is subject to Scottish Government Covid-19 guidelines and the availability and access to the SFRS staff at the time.

Stage 1 – scoping 

  • initial engagement with key stakeholders and establishment of single point of contact
  • a review of existing key documents in the management and delivery of the in scope Health, Safety and Welfare – Operational Focus within the Service 
  • we will consult with third parties like the HSE, Police and any agencies that may have been involved in H&S related matters since the formation of the single FRS for Scotland
  • data collection and analysis

Stage 2 – fieldwork

The fieldwork phase will focus on Service culture, understanding, knowledge and learning. Specific topics and questions for interviews will be structured around our inspection framework.

During the fieldwork there may be a need to interview other people to explore issues that may emerge.

Stage 3 – analysis of evidence

During this stage, the Inspecting Officers will review and evaluate the information and evidence collected during the inspection, and where necessary expand the area of enquiry to address areas of concern. We may seek support of sector specific professional advisors in this process.

Stage 4 - publication and reporting

We anticipate publishing a report of our findings by the end of quarter 4 of 2021/22. 

A copy of the report will be provided to the Board, the Chief Officer and laid before the Scottish Parliament. A copy will also be made publicly available on the HMFSI website.

The report will outline our methodology and approach, report on our key findings, conclusions, and any recommendations.

The results of our inspection will:

  • provide independent assurance as to the efficiency and effectiveness of the provision and management of Health, Safety and Welfare – Operational focus within the SFRS and
  • highlight areas of good practice and any areas for improvement


Our proposed timetable is:

  • January 2021 - scoping 
  • Spring/summer 2021 - fieldwork
  • Autumn 2021 - analysis of evidence
  • End 2021/22*  - publication and reporting

* Subject to Scottish Government Covid 19 guidelines at the time

The inspection team members will comprise of HMFSI staff, together with other subject matter specialists as required.

The point of contact for this Thematic Review is Rick Taylor – Assistant Inspector (

The team’s work is reviewed independently for quality assurance.

This Inspection Outline document has been prepared to describe why we are carrying out an inspection and how we will go about the work. It is also intended to support our consultation with Ministers, the SFRS management team, representative bodies and service users. If you wish to make any comments or observations, these should be submitted to the Chief Inspector by emailing

The team members can also provide clarification on any of the content and can be contacted through the same email address.


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