The essential fire safety facts your employees need to know

All workplaces need to have the right measures in place so that all everyone on the premises will be kept safe if a fire should break out. The responsibility for fire safety falls on the shoulders of employers, and a key part of this is education employees on the essential things they need to know in the event of a fire.

Ideally, you should send all of your workers on a fire safety training course, or at least a handful of employees who will act as the workplace fire marshals. Every workplace needs at least one responsible who has taken fire marshal training.

In addition to this, it is crucial that you ensure your employees know:

• Where the fire exits are
• What to do when the fire alarm goes off
• How to set the fire alarm off if necessary
• Which escape routes to use in case of fire
• Where to assemble once clear of the building

The best way to make sure that each and every employee knows these crucial fire safety facts, you should have regular fire drills, in which you simulate a fire emergency and practice exiting the building quickly and safely.

Ramsey restaurant prosecuted for food hygiene failings

The owners of an Indian restaurant in the Huntingdonshire market town of Ramsey has been prosecuted over food hygiene breaches within their business.

The Bengal Restaurant, joint-owned by Mr Fazir Khan and Mr Noor Ali, was inspected by Environmental Health Protection Officers from Huntingdonshire District Council last April. During the visit, officers found the following problems:

• Staff members and delivery drivers walking through raw sewage from a blocked and discharging drain to gain access to the restaurant’s kitchens
• Poor standards of cleaning and disinfection
• Food handlers without any food hygiene training left unsupervised
• High risk food products being stored at ambient temperatures
• Risks of cross-contamination
• No documented food safety management system
• A kitchen which was too small for the food operation

After the inspection, the Bengal Restaurant was given a food hygiene rating of 0 and the owners agreed to close it whilst cleaning and disinfection could take place.

Mr Fazir Khan and Mr Noor Ali were prosecuted in Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court. They pleaded guilty to a total of seven food hygiene offences and were fined £1,750 for each offence, as well as being required to pay the council’s court costs of £1,200.

Billericay care home still needs to make improvements, says CQC

A care home in Billericay which the Care Quality Commission (CQC) deemed to be failing in delivering the right standards of care still needs to make improvements, the health watchdog has said.

The Queens Park Court care home was inspected back in November 2012 and a number of problems were uncovered. The home’s management was told that it had until the end of March 2013 to make the required improvements to areas such as care training for staff and compliance with regulations.

A recent visit has demonstrated that the care home has not improved enough, however. A new CQC report claims that Queens Park is still failing to meet four out of five national standards, which include:

• Assessing and closely monitoring the quality of service provided
• Staffing – ensuring there are enough staff members with the right care training on duty when needed
• Ensuring the care and welfare of people who use the home’s services
• Respecting and involving the people who use the home’s services

Rushcliffe Care Ltd, which owns the care home, will now have to take the actions recommended in the CQC report, and the Commission will closely monitor its progress to ensure that standards are met.

Drinks producer fined by HSE for health and safety failings

A drinks producer has been prosecuted and fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) along with another company after health and safety failings were identified at a factory in the Herefordshire market town of Ledbury.

The HSE stepped in to investigate following a serious incident involving a scaffold at the premises of United Beverages Ltd back in October 2009. Health and safety officers identified many breaches of safety in relation to the scaffold.

As well as having defects such as loose boards and gaps, the scaffold was not inspected frequently enough. When it was, an unqualified employee without the required health and safety training on scaffolding was sent to complete the inspection.

The HSE prosecuted Central Roofing and Building Services, which trades as Erect-A-Scaffold and was appointed by the drinks company to put up and look after the scaffold at the site, for the safety issues with the scaffold. However, the body also brought Universal Beverages Ltd before Worcester Crown Court to answer charges of failing to ensure its subcontractor met its obligations in relation to the scaffold, thereby putting its employees and non-employees at risk.

Both companies were fined for breaching health and safety regulations, with Universal Beverages having to pay £85,000 plus £50,000 costs while Central Roofing and Building Services being fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £18,000 in court costs.

Takeaway shut down for food hygiene breaches including insect infestation

A takeaway restaurant in the suburban London district of Chingford has been shut down after food hygiene inspectors uncovered a serious insect infestation.

The Chicks Chicken and Pizza restaurant was inspected by the council’s environmental health team after a member of the public called up with a complaint about a cockroach on a wall of the premises. In an unannounced visit, inspectors found to their horror that the business was infested with German cockroaches, which were everywhere from the walls behind freezers and cookers to the insides of paper towel dispensers.

In addition, the restaurant was generally very dirty throughout, suggesting that staff and managers had either not had the right food hygiene training or were neglecting their responsibilities.

The Chicks Chicken and Pizza restaurant has now been closed down under an Emergency Hygiene Prohibition Order that the council obtained from Stratford Magistrates’ Court. Commenting on the case, Waltham Forest Council’s Councillor Clyde Loakes said:

“It’s a horrible array of unsanitary conditions in which to prepare, cook and sell food,”

“It just beggars belief that anyone working with food could be quite so irresponsible.

“To continue to serve food when cockroaches are running around freely makes my stomach churn.”

North West landlord fined for fire safety breaches

A landlord in the North West town of Blackpool has been ordered to pay a fine of £36,000 after authorities found that he had breached fire safety rules at one of his rental properties.

The fire safety breaches came to light after a fire broke out at the property on Clarence Street in Morecambe in July 2012. The blaze started when a tenant fell asleep while cooking, but the fire alarm did not sound. The property filled with smoke and one person required hospital treatment for smoke inhalation.

Following the incident, an investigation was launched by the local fire authorities and the council. Landlord Graham Sawings was found to have breached fire safety regulations relating to the 2004 Housing Act by not testing the fire alarm system and fixing or replacing faulty alarms, as well as not having any equipment in place to fight fires.

Mr Sawings was also prosecuted for having fire doors that didn’t close properly, and for not taking another of the steps often covered in fire safety training courses – having a fire evacuation plan in place. The landlord was fined £36,000 after admitting ten breaches of fire safety laws. He was also ordered to pay £7,000 in costs.

Health and safety award for Wessex Water

The water company Wessex Water has been presented with a prestigious award for its exceptional health and safety procedures.

The gold award was presented to the company’s in-house construction firm, called Wessex Engineering Construction Services (WECS), by representatives from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). The gold award is the top prize awarded to UK businesses by the society.

The gold awards were set up to try to raise standards for health and safety within all UK industries. They recognise standards of excellence and commitment to health and safety and the prevention of accidents, encouraging businesses to invest in health and safety training and review procedures regularly.

Commenting on the award, the compliance manager for WECS, Stephen Penn, said:

“We are very pleased to be awarded the RoSPA gold award for 2013.

“Each year the bar is raised by RoSPA and this demonstrates that our systems and commitment are worthy of a prestigious award from an internationally-famous organisation.

“Each member of the WECS team and our key contractors has played a key role in this award and my thanks goes out to every one of them.”

U.S. study finds firms focusing on health and safety make for better investments

A new study carried out in the U.S. has found that firms which have robust health and safety programmes have been proven to generate better returns for investors.

The results of the study, which were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed that companies which have received the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) Corporate Health Achievement Award tended to outperform the S&P 500.

The award recognises the companies in North America which have committed to health and safety training and are dedicated to the health, safety and wellbeing of their workers.

HealthNEXT LLC researchers also carried out four investment scenarios and found that those companies that had received the award did better than the market in terms of returns for investors. In the published report on the study, its authors’ state:

“Our results strongly support the view that focusing on health and safety of a workforce is good business,”

“Engaging in a comprehensive effort to promote wellness, reduce the health risks of a work force and mitigate the complications of chronic illness within these populations can produce remarkable impacts on health care costs, productivity and performance.”

Manchester health professionals devise innovative dementia training programme

Health and social care professionals in Greater Manchester have teamed up with academics to come up with an innovative new care training programme for the treatment of people with dementia in hospitals.

Along with NHS Trusts in Salford, Central Manchester and Bolton, the Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Manchester have worked together to develop the “Getting to Know Me” dementia training programme for hospital staff.

The programme is designed to give general hospital staff a greater level of confidence and skill in providing care to the people with the disease who occupy around 25 per cent of hospital beds every year. Its training materials are free to access and download, and they have been compiled with input from people who are actually living with dementia.

Nearly 500 hospital staff have completed the care training programme so far, and most have demonstrated greater knowledge and confidence in relation to providing care to dementia patients.

Commenting on aims of the new training programme, Senior Nurse for Older People at Bolton NHS Trust, Pat Graham, said:

“It’s so important for the care of people with dementia that all staff understand them and how best to meet their needs.”