Hundreds of London residential blocks lack risk assessment

Nearly 500 high rise social housing blocks in London do not have a valid fire risk assessment in place, according to a BBC London investigation.

Freedom of information request sent to all 32 London boroughs show that at least ten councils have been failing to carry our fire risk assessments. The BBC asked each authority for information on:

•    the number of blocks they had over six storeys
•    when each was last refurbished
•    the date of the last fire risk assessment for each block
•    the official in each authority responsible for ensuring compliance with the Fire Safety Order

The revelations come almost three months after a fire at Lakanal House claimed the lives of six people. The fire threw the spotlight on older residential tower blocks, especially those like Lakanal House with
two-storey flats arranged in a ‘scissor’ design.

To date, 26 councils have provided responses to the requests for information.

Blackpool Football Club has been fined £8,000 for breaching health and safety regulations.

Blackpool magistrates also ordered the club to pay £500 costs and the £15 victims’ surcharge after it pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to comply with an improvement notice.

Peter Trend, presiding magistrate, said the club had “put people at risk”, was “highly culpable” and had “ignored matters”.

One notice required it provide an assessment of health and safety risks to employees and the other to provide a written health and safety policy.

Lynda Bennett, prosecuting for Blackpool Council, said  official Jacqueline Harrison met club representatives to discuss concerns that there was no safety policy or risk assessment for non-match days at Bloomfield Road.

The club was covered only for match days.

Ms Harrison served two improvement notices, which required it to provide a health and safety assessment of risks to people at the club and a written health and safety policy.

The club should have complied but failed to do so. Ms Harrison invited representatives to a meeting but they declined to attend.

Ms Bennett added the written policy had still not been signed, so technically there was no designated person overseeing health and safety policy at the club on non-match days.

She said: “There was a lengthy opportunity for the club to comply. ”
Roderick Dyer, company secretary, said the man principally responsible for health and safety assessment and written policy on non-match days had been diagnosed with throat cancer and had left work in March to undergo treatment.

No-one else at the club realised the work had not been done.

Preparing for Winter

Please read our Winter Weather Advisory located on our home page

The clocks go back this weekend, officially marking the end of the British summer which means we are about to enter one of the most dangerous times of the year on the roads.

Bad weather and shorter, darker days in winter pose a danger, so the period between 3pm and 6pm is particularly hazardous, as more people are travelling on the roads, on the way home from work, or school. During the summer, up to a quarter of all collisions happen during these hours, but when the clocks go back, heavy traffic and rapidly deteriorating light increases this to a third.

To make sure you stay safe on the roads this winter, fleet risk-management solutions provider, Interactive Driving Systems, offers the following advice:

Before you drive – keep yourself and your vehicle in good technical repair to reduce your overall chances of any mishap or disaster while driving in winter weather; prepare your vehicle for winter driving by giving it a complete check-up, and keep your fuel tank near to full to ensure that you do not run out; make sure your tyres are in good order by checking them weekly, or when refuelling; carry an emergency kit for your car in case you get stranded in adverse weather; listen to weather forecasts and, if the weather and visibility are hazardous, ask yourself ‘is this trip really necessary?’

On the road – drive according to current road and weather conditions, making sure that all windows and mirrors are clear and that wipers and defrosters are in good working condition; and drive slowly with low-beam headlights on if visibility is poor, test your brakes frequently, leave a bigger gap and never tailgate.

If the worst happens – if you get stranded, don’t panic. Keep yourself safe, and follow the detailed procedures in your driver’s handbook if you are in a work vehicle; in your own vehicle you should contact the appropriate support organisation and follow their guidance.

One in three women say they’re bullied at work

According to new survey results from public sector union, Unison, one in three women say they are bullied at work.

Results revealed that 66% of respondents bullied in the last six months say it is ongoing and that the most common bully is an older woman in a more senior professional position. The most common bullying behaviours include excessive work monitoring and criticism; isolation / exclusion; intimidation; unrealistic targets; public humiliation and insulting jokes; malicious rumours; and withholding information needed to get the job done.

The majority of the bullied women said they suffer from anger, mental stress, depression, lowered confidence and insomnia.

Around 80% of respondents said that they wanted bullying legislation put in place, to make it as serious as harassment. Of the respondents, 73% knew their employer had a bullying policy at work, but 65% say it has not been enforced and many said it had not been reviewed since 2000 or earlier.

Unison is now launching a ‘Bully Busters’ campaign with women’s magazine, Company. The Bully Busters campaign is calling for the Government to revise the current Dignity in the Workplace bill to include an anti-bullying policy, which is enforced by employers.

Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said:
“This shocking survey shows that the bullying and harassment of young women in the workplace is spiralling out of control.

“More women are working now than ever before, yet one in three young women are victimised and suffer in silence. Many people do not realise that a drip feed of bullying behaviour can be as devastating as a major incident.

“Serious mental and physical illness is a common result for those being bullied and this can have a damaging effect on these women for the rest of their lives.

“Our research has shown that bullying is accepted in many organisations – we need to change this attitude now.

“The recession has surely added to this problem and the cost to employers, to cover absence and replace trained staff, makes it clear that tackling bullying makes economic sense.”
A leading Employment lawyer advises employers to:
•    Ensure that a formal statement or policy exists and is supported by senior management.
•    Issue a clear statement that bullying and harassment is totally unacceptable.
•    Investigate alleged incidents thoroughly and immediately.
•    Provide access to counselling and advice for recipients, where practicable, or consider giving time off for these activities.
•    Make appropriate use of grievance and disciplinary procedures, or introduce a harassment procedure.
•    Train your managers to increase knowledge and awareness.