1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Mission Statement
  4. Aims and Objectives
  5. Compliance with National Policies
  6. Enforcement
  7. Authority Profile
  8. Work Achieved 2021-22 and plan for 2022-23
  9. Resources
  10. Competency and Consistency of Officers
  11. Customer Survey
  12. Complaints Against the Service
  13. Disclosure of Information
  14. Conclusion
  15. Contact Details

Introduction

1.1 This Health & Safety service plan is an expression of Rother District Council’s continuing commitment to regulating Health & Safety at work.

This service plan supports the vision of Rother DC Corporate Plan (2020 – 2027) “to put residents at the heart of all we do” by delivering an effective public health service to promote and sustain a safe prosperous community for businesses and residents. Corporate Plan 2020-2027 – Rother District Council

Rother District Council commits to the joint Statement of Commitment between local authorities and HSE Regulatory Services. Statement of commitment between: Local Authority and HSE Regulatory Services – HSE

1.2 The Better Regulation Office publication ‘National Enforcement Priorities for Local Authority (LA) Regulatory Services’, placed Health and Safety at Priority number four – ‘Help people to live healthier lives by preventing ill health and harm and promoting public health’.

Background

2.1 Health and Safety legislation in Great Britain is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive or one of the over 380 local authorities (LA) depending on the main activity carried out at any particular premises. In general LA’s are the main enforcing authority for retail, wholesale distribution and warehousing, hotel and catering premises, offices, and the consumer/leisure industries.

2.2 Each local authority is an enforcing authority in its own right and must make adequate provision for enforcement. The LA National Enforcement Code introduced in May 2013 sets out the principles that each local authority should follow to ensure a consistent, proportionate and targeted approach to regulation based on risk.

2.3 Local authorities use a number of intervention approaches to regulate and influence businesses in the management of health and safety risks including:

  • provision of advice and guidance to individual businesses or groups
  • proactive interventions including inspection
  • reactive interventions e.g. to investigate an accident or complaint.

2.4 Local authority inspectors may use enforcement powers, including formal enforcement notices, to address occupational health and safety risks and secure compliance with the law. Prosecution action may be appropriate to hold those to account for failures to safeguard health and safety Local authority enforcement – HSE and LAs Working together – HSE

Within Rother District Council this duty is carried out by Environmental Health Officers within the Environmental Health Department.

Mission Statement

‘Deliver an increasingly efficient and effective public health service which strives to promote and sustain a safe prosperous community for businesses, residents and visitors’.

Aims and Objectives

Aims:

To enable the service to use its resources in an efficient and effective way, to promote compliance with legal obligations under health and safety law, and to take robust action where there is serious non-compliance that puts the safety or health of those at work, or the public at risk.

Objectives:

  1. To contribute to the growth of local businesses through the provision of proactive and reactive advice and guidance and contributing to a level playing field for business.
  2. To investigate complaints and reports of incidents that meet the incident selection criteria and complaint handling criteria set down by HSE.
  3. To target a range of interventions on prescribed national priorities and local intelligence-based priorities.
  4. To work in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and others to deliver this service plan.
  5. To support the Primary Authority Scheme.

Compliance With National Policies

All health and safety regulatory activity carried on by Rother District Council must conform to the requirements of the National Local Authority Enforcement Code. The Code requires that all health and safety law enforcement is proportionate in applying the law and securing compliance; consistent in approach and targeting of enforcement action; Rother Council must be transparent and accountable about how we operate and what those regulated may expect. Rother Council must ensure that health and safety priorities and interventions are targeted in accordance with the mandatory HSE guidance – Local Authority Circular 67-2 (Revision 11 LAC 67-2 (Revision 11) – Setting Local Authority Priorities and Targeting Interventions (hse.gov.uk)).

5.2 Interventions are carried out in accordance with written procedures which reflect the nature of the activity under consideration. Officers have regard to the regulations made under Section 15 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the codes of practice which are issued under Section 16 of the Act, when enforcing the provisions of the Act.

5.3 In accordance with HSE and LGA advice issued 1st April 2011, food hygiene and health and safety interventions will be joined where appropriate to minimise burdens on local businesses.

5.4 RDC is committed to meeting statutory duties under Equality Act 2010. We aim to place equalities at the heart of our service planning and decision-making processes. Equalities at Rother District Council – Rother District Council

This plan provides a documented system for officers’ guidance and information and to facilitate inter authority or peer review audits.

Enforcement

Rother District Council recognises the emphasis placed on enforcement by the guidance of the HSE and LG Regulation (published in May 2011), in particular the need for enforcement action to ‘Maintain a strong deterrent against those who fail to meet their H&S obligations and put their employees at material risk thereby also deriving an unfair competitive advantage’ .

Rother District Council adopted an enforcement policy for the shared Environmental Health service in October 2014, Cabinet minute 14/31 is available at: EH Enforcement Policy

Officers carry out enforcement in line with this enforcement policy as well as being guided by the Health and Safety Executive’s Enforcement Policy Statement and the Enforcement Management Model. Service standards and this plan can be found on our Service standards page

Authority Profile

Rother’s District has a population of approximately 96,080 and covers an area of 511.8 Km2 (ONS 2019).  It comprises rural, coastal and urban areas with three main towns – Bexhill, Battle and Rye.  The businesses within the district reflect this diversity with care, tourism and leisure being the largest sectors.

Ordnance Survey Map of Rother

Bexhill, the main urban development, has a significant care industry which is manifest in a high number of care homes. Battle is a year-round tourist destination.   Rye and Camber are popular summer tourist attractions with Rye Harbour the location of several industrial estates.  Battle, Robertsbridge and Rye all hold large annual bonfire celebrations in November which are distinct to this area.

Health and Safety work is carried out by officers who also conduct food hygiene inspections, infectious disease investigations, commercial and residential caravan site licensing, kennel and cattery licensing, risk assess private water supplies, pest control and stray dog control. A decision making and overview and scrutiny structure is available overleaf.

The team operates from the Town Hall Bexhill on Sea and the Civic Offices Hailsham from 8 30 am to 5pm Monday to Friday. The service operates an agile working system. Planned out-of-hour work is undertaken and emergency calls are received by a standby system on 01424 787868.

Rother District Council Structure

Rother District Council
Rother District Council
Cabinet
Cabinet
Licensing & General Purposes
Licensing & Gene…
Planning
Planning
Audit & Standard
Audit & Standard
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Overview and Scr…
Chief Executive
Mr Malcolm Johnson
Chief Executive…
Service Manager of Environmental Health, Licensing and Community Safety

Mr Richard Parker-Harding
Service Manager of Environmental Health, Licensing and Commun…
Food and Safety Team (FAST) 
Community Protection Team
Licensing Team
Community Safety
Food and Safety Team (FAST)…
Viewer does not support full SVG 1.1

Work Achieved 2021-22 and Plan for 2022-23

The following work plan has been prepared in accordance with the National LA Enforcement Code, and Local Authority Circular 67/2 (rev 11). It seeks to use a range of interventions.

Provision of advice and guidance

  1. Rother DC offers advice to business through its Support and advice page
    There is a range of local and national advice including specific information for rural businesses, local partnerships and regeneration projects.
  2. Rother District Council offers support for those starting up new businesses at our Advice, support and training page
    Environmental Health Officers offer advice on health and safety at work including those thinking of starting a new business. 
    Health and safety – the basics for business – is at Health and safety at work – the basics for business

Proactive Interventions – Covid 19

  • The year 2021 – 22 was extraordinary because of the global pandemic. No proactive inspections were planned as the priority of the Environmental Health service was the safety of all Rother communities from Covid 19. The service concentrated on giving advice and support to all business to control the risk of Covid 19 within their business. When it was safe to do so, officers made proactive inspections to assess Covid security.
  • At various stages mass emails were sent to businesses with specific advice on the Covid requirements (e.g. preparation of risk assessments, provision of ventilation in workplaces, use of carbon dioxide monitors). Specific guidance was issued at Christmas, which was very well received, see below.
Photo of "Advice on Planning a Covid-free Christmas" notice
  • When it was safe to do so, proactive inspections were made of specific groups of businesses to assess Covid security. Eleven major supermarkets were inspected in January 2022. All had suitable risk assessments in place, but there was limited knowledge on the importance of ventilation and how carbon dioxide monitors could be used as a control measure. Each was given advice verbally and in writing.
  • Seven garden centres were visited in February 2022. The standards were good, but improvements were required to almost all risk assessments. Ventilation and social distancing were a clear issue in the indoor parts, while the Covid security standards in the outdoor sales areas were very good. Novel good practice was observed in one garden centre which was shared, with permission, with others.
"Why ventilation is important" PowerPoint slide from the Health and Safety Executive
"CO2 Monitors" PowerPoint slide from the Health and Safety Executive
  • The three Freedom Leisure centres were inspected in March 2022. Two of the centres had adequate Covid control measures in place and there was room for improvement in the third. Appropriate advice was given.
Sign in place during inspection March 2022

Safety Advisory Groups

Traditional Sussex bonfires and firework displays are held throughout the district. Some of these events are held on Council owned land and attract very large numbers of visitors. These events can pose crushing and burning risks in crowds. This work is recognised as a national priority as suitable for proactive intervention by local authorities to prevent injuries to members of the public (priority 12).

In the winter of 2021, there was much concern about the rising number of Covid 19 cases and some bonfire societies chose to cancel. Five societies held events (Battle, Rye, Robertsbridge, Ewhurst & Staplecross and Northiam). For each of these events we held safety advisory groups, to bring together the various agencies and the bonfire societies to discuss the safety arrangements.

Public domain picture of Battel Bonfire procession 2021

Investigation of Incidents and Complaints

All reported accidents, incidents (RIDDOR or adverse insurance reports) and complaints are subjected to the HSE’s incident selection criteria and complaints handling criteria. This means that each complaint is investigated if it poses a significant risk to safety or health. The full policy is available at
Food and Health and Safety Complaint Investigation Policy – Rother District Council

Thirty-seven accidents at work were reported to Rother District Council in 2021 – 22. Most were relatively minor matters which did not require regulatory intervention. Seven were investigated and included a head injury to a person giving care to care home resident, contamination of eyes from a cleaning agent, falls on a supermarket floor (customers and employees). The most serious involved repeated falls of catering workers moving between their kitchen and the back yard. The step drop was over 22cm, an excessive height for a step. The EHO required remedial works, a new step, handrail and sign was installed.

Three hundred and fifty-five (355) complaints about Covid security and workplace health and safety were received from members of the public in 2021 – 22. Members of the public were concerned about lack of ventilation, social distancing, lack of face coverings, lack of cleaning and disinfection. These concerns were addressed by phone, email and visits. When contraventions were confirmed, businesses were given a short time period to comply and revisits were made to ensure that compliance was maintained.

During other inspections it can happen that officers identify matters of evident concern. During a food hygiene inspection an officer noticed a large unguarded mixing machine – this means the parts move at speed and could cause significant harm through entrapment of loose materials (tea towels, apron strings). A suitable guard was fitted after the EHO’s intervention.

Photo of unguarded mixing machine
Photo of mixing machine with guard, following EHO intervention

Plan for 2022-23

We will continue giving advise to businesses, responding to complaints from the public, making proactive inspections and enforcement where necessary. We will remain alert for a rise in Covid 19 cases especially in workplaces.

We will deliver two projects from the HSE priority list – safety of inflatables amusement devices and raising awareness of the need to prevent injury to members of the public from accessing large commerical bins and recyling bins. (HSE National Priorities 4 and 11).

There has been a number of serious incidents where inflatable amusement devices have collapsed or blown away in windy conditions. Inflatables can be found at many local premises and we will raise awareness of the general risks associated with the operation of such devices. In particular, that devices are correctly anchored to the ground, there are suitable arrangements for measuring wind conditions at regular intervals, there is written documentation from a competent inspection body to show it complies with British Standard BS EN 14960. Full details at Inflatables – Rother District Council

Picture of an inflatable
Picture of an inflatable

There have been numerous cases where members of the public have gained access to commercial bins for shelter and then been injured or killed when those bins were emptied into collection and compaction vehicles. We will raise awareness of the need to manage the risks of unsecured access to bins.

Working with Other Regulators

The Food and Safety team will continue to work with Sussex Police, East Sussex Fire and Rescue, South East Coast Ambulance on safety at traditional bonfire events and other outdoor events.

Food and Safety Team working in small groups
Food and Safety Team working in small groups

Resources

The number of full-time equivalent officers allocated to work on health and safety regulatory activity is 1.6 Officers Authorised under the Health and Safety at Work Act,

Environmental Health OfficerAdditional QualificationLevel of Authorisation Enforcement
EDWARDS SimonMSc Env HealthFull
HOYLAND RichardBSC Env HealthFull  
KANE UnaDiploma in Health and Safety BSc Env HealthFull
OGINNI OladayoMSc Env HealthFull
POWELL JamieBSc Env HealthFull
WRIGHT PhilipBSc Env HealthFull
KAMUNDA MaybeeBSc Env HealthFull

Environmental Health Officers outside the Food, Safety team who are also authorised:

SurnameFirst nameJob Title
PARKER-HARDINGRichardHead of Environmental Health  
RANDOLPHMarkSenior Environmental Health Officer
SMITHSueSenior Environmental Health Officer
MINNSGregSenior Environmental Health Officer
BEAUMONTCathyDeputy head of Environmental Health
BIGGSSteveSenior Environmental Health Officer

The Service activities are recorded on M3, in accordance with HSE instructions. LAC 67/2 (revision 11). Each planned intervention is reviewed as part of this service plan. In addition to material available on the HSE’s general website and secure Extranet site, a library of law encyclopaedias and reference books is maintained in the office. The service subscribes to RIAMS an online resource for local authority Environmental health departments.

Competency and Consistency of Officers

It is essential that officers are well informed and knowledgeable in health and safety matters. Competency of all officers is judged against HSC (G) 4 “Standards of Competency”, using a matrix developed by the Sussex Health and Safety Liaison Group. This group includes all Sussex local authorities that are responsible for regulating health and safety and includes a representative from the HSE. It encourages sharing of knowledge and expertise and develops joint resources. Rother DC continues to attend and support the Sussex Health and Safety Liaison Group.

Annual appraisals are conducted to review performance and to identify specific training needs. Officers attend training days, county liaison meetings and food and safety team meetings. Through 2021 – 21 team meetings were held both in person and on line as the level of Covid infection allowed. 

Complaints Against Service

Rother operates a local complaints procedure which allows anyone dissatisfied with the Council’s service to pursue their complaint and expect a quick response. No complaints were made against the service in 2021 – 22.

Customer Survey

A proportion of businesses are contacted online to seek their views on how we perform. These responses are collated and contribute to the performance management monitoring and reporting carried out by the Environmental Health Service. This includes acting where performance does not meet the expected standards.

Disclosure of Information

It is Rother’s policy that disclosures will be made on receipt of a written application under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Conclusion

This Service Plan has been authorised by the Head of Service, following consultation with the Cabinet Portfolio Holder.

It is published on our website and in the Members’ Bulletin.

Signed: R. Parker-Harding
Mr R Parker-Harding BSc (Hons) MSc DMS MCIEH AMIOA
Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner
Head of Service- Environmental Services, Licensing and Community Safety

Dated: 22 August 2022

Signed; K Field
Councillor K Field
Cabinet Portfolio Holder

Dated: 22 August 2022

Contact Details

Address:         Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex TN39 3JX
Website:          www.rother.gov.uk
E-mail:            foodhs@rother.gov.uk
Telephone:      01424-787000