The Health and Safety Officer presented a report to the Committee on Health and Safety covering the period April - June 2020.
Councillor Dumont asked when Members could expect to see staff returning to Wallfields following the change in Government guidance on working from home. He hoped that staff with underlying health conditions, or that had previously been shielding, would receive appropriate levels of support when returning to the office.
The Health and Safety Officer said some staff had been working at Wallfields. The Council had put policies in place to ensure this was safe, for example by limiting the number of staff allowed into the office at one time, and assigned seating in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. These policies were being continually monitored, and with regard to first aider provision and fire safety. The results of the Wellbeing Survey had been factored in, and staff who indicated they were having significant problems working from home would be given priority in returning to the office, should they wish to. Any members of staff who had concerns about returning could seek support through the Wellbeing Hub.
The Head of HR and OD said that he wished to clarify that reference to the re-opening of Wallfields was in relation to the general public’s access; Wallfields had remained open to a limited number of staff throughout lockdown. UNISON had been involved in checking the agreed safety policies in the office were being followed. He thanked the UNISON Branch Secretary, for her collaboration. In relation to staff that had been shielding, none would be forced to work from home or attend the office. HR was aware that the issue of staff returning to the office involved complexities and considerations, so this process would not be rushed.
Councillor Bull said he was surprised to hear that the small fire at Buntingford Service Centre was caused by a household battery, which he would not have expected to have ‘slipped through the net’.
The Health and Safety Officer said that it was thought the battery had been damaged by a waste disposal vehicle. There had been a larger volume of general waste being dealt with by the Council as residents were unable to visit recycling centres; this made detection of erroneous items more difficult. However, this incident had been recorded and consideration had been given to new fire safety measures.
RESOLVED – that the report be noted.