KEEPING RURAL EMPLOYEES SAFE

Wealden’s Environmental Health officers made 22 visits to care homes last year as well as seven visits to betting shops and ten inspections of petrol station forecourts, as part of a wide range of duties which include protecting employees at their place of work.

In its annual report to Wealden’s Cabinet last month, the service reported that it was satisfied that the care homes complied with health and safety. Some of their policies on assessing risk, and ensuring care home assistants did not injure themselves when lifting patients, did need improvement.

Acting on national intelligence from Sussex Police about the risk of violence to people working in petrol stations and betting offices, Wealden’s Environmental Health Officers visited betting shops and petrol station forecourts to ensure safety arrangements were in place for employees.

Officers found that the betting shops were well managed, but all staff reported receiving verbal abuse and physical threats. There had been robberies and one case of armed robbery. Satisfactory safety arrangements were also in place for staff at petrol stations.

“Our Environmental Health Officers are called on to carry out a wide range of duties to ensure public safety,” said Councillor Philip Lunn, Wealden Cabinet member for Community & Public Health. “Some of their work over the past year highlights the safety concerns of people working in rural areas where they may find themselves alone and isolated. Good working practices can provide a great deal of reassurance. If you have concerns about your job or your employees, please contact Wealden and Rother’s Environmental Health team on foodhs@rother.gov.uk.

“Over the past year, officers have advised 38 new businesses about their start-up plans.”

Some 60 complaints about health and safety issues were also received from members of the public. These ranged from lifts not working in a care home, poor conditions on a holiday campsite, poor electrics, a lack of stair handrails and damaged surfaces at a customer car park. In all cases, advice was given to businesses and some were instructed to make repairs and renew equipment and fittings.

BREXIT has also added to the service’s workload. The Environmental Health service issues health certificates to Wealden food producers who export foodstuffs outside the European Union. After BREXIT, food inspections and certification may be required for local food being exported to EU countries. The service has been responding to requests for advice from local food producers. It will be ready to provide inspections and certificates as the need arises.

Food hygiene inspections for local catering and food outlets is another part of the service’s work. Last year only six Wealden premises scored less than 3 in the Food Standard Agency’s Hygiene Rating Scheme. Over 98% are broadly compliant with the FSA’s hygiene standards. At the end of the year, 601 food premises will have been inspected by the service, using a rating system which ensures those at the highest risk, receive most attention.

Wealden and Rother District Councils have a shared Environmental Health service. Its officers are also called on to investigate notifiable infectious diseases, regulate cosmetic piercing, licence holiday caravan sites, kennels and catteries, provide a pest and dog control service and to risk assess private water supplies.  Reports on the Health and Safety Service Plan and the Food Service Plan can be found on the Wealden website: http://council.wealden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=292&MId=4639&Ver=4