HM Fire Service Inspectorate – management of health and safety: an operational focus

HM Fire Service Inspectorate carried out a thematic inspection to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of health, safety and welfare arrangements in place within the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) with a particular focus on health and a safety in an operational context.

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Introduction and Background

1. The SFRS, as an employer, has responsibility to ensure the safety of its staff, in line with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA)[1] and associated Regulations.

2. The HSWA includes a requirement on employers to provide information, instruction, training and the provision of supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of its employees. The ability for SFRS to capture, record, and track relevant information is another essential component in the demonstration of compliance with duties under the Act.

3. Employees of the SFRS have a duty under HSWA to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to cooperate with the employer to enable the SFRS to comply with its duties.

4. The SFRS has statutory duties as an employer under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 ('the regulations') to manage the workplace appropriately in relation to health and safety (H&S) and to put arrangements in place to control H&S risks. The regulations place a duty on the SFRS as an employer to review workplace activity, such as preventative and protective measures, as well as undertaking and reviewing risk assessments. In the case of the SFRS, H&S responsibilities include operational activities on the incident ground.

5. Fires and other emergencies attended by Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) are by their very nature, hazardous operations.The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sets out how it will enforce H&S legislation in the UK FRS in the document 'Striking the balance between operational and health and safety duties in the Fire and Rescue Service 2010'.[2]

6. There are two other national documents that are relevant to H&S in the FRS. The first is a joint statement from the Chief Fire and Rescue Advisers in England and Wales, and HM Fire Service Inspectorate in Scotland, in conjunction with the HSE entitled – Health and Safety in the Fire and Rescue Service – Embedding Lessons Learned 2015.[3] This document reflects on a number of public reports on emergency incidents attended by FRSs, in which health and safety has been a leading theme. Secondly, The Management of Health and Safety in the GB Fire and Rescue Service – Consolidated Report based on the 8 inspections completed by HSE in 2009/10,[4] contains findings relevant to health and safety management in FRSs.

7. Our Scrutiny Plan for 2016-21[5] identified firefighter safety as an area of interest for Thematic Inspections. Having considered a wide range of topics, and following discussions with the SFRS, the Chief Inspector opted to carry out a Thematic Inspection focussing on 'Health and Safety – An Operational Focus'.



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