Environmental Health and Licensing – commercial team

Environmental Health and Licensing – Commercial Team

Introduction

The Environmental Health and Licensing team within Wokingham Borough is provided through a shared service with West Berkshire Council. This collaborative department allows for an improved knowledge base and to share good practice and resources. We are better placed to protect and improve public and workplace health and wellbeing using a combination of formal enforcement processes available through statute and non-statutory methods to encourage compliance and behaviour change.


Commercial Team

Scope of the Service:

The Officers within the team deal with all workplace health and safety related matters in all Local Authority enforced premises and all food safety related matters including infectious disease control.

Smokefree legislation brought in by the Health Act 2006 falls within the remit of the team to enforce. In addition, in partnership with the police, the team also is involved with the enforcement of the ban on smoking in cars with under 18s.

The team are also taking an active role in the public health agenda. To date we have launched the Eat out Eat well award which rewards food businesses who have healthy options on their menu and who promote healthy eating.

We have introduced the national Workplace Wellbeing Charter which rewards businesses who are demonstrating good practice in workplace safety and employee welfare.


The team work in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency and the Health and Safety Executive to enforce food safety legislation and health and safety legislation. 

 

The team enforces the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulation 2013 in addition to other food safety legislation.  The team  follow  the Food Standards Agency Code of Practice.

 

In terms of Health and Safety we enforce the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the various regulations made under this. Our work is in line with the Local Authority National Code which sets out the risk based approach to targeting health and safety interventions to be followed by LA regulators and sets out the need for training and competence of LA H&S regulators.


Health and Safety in the workplace


Health and safety activity has greatly reduced, due to changes in central Government approaches. The profile within the Borough would suggest that the vast majority of Wokingham based businesses have in place adequate health and safety arrangements. However, 70 RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulation 2013) reports were received in 2014/15 of those there was 1 fatality due to a fall from height and 4 major accidents;116 health and safety specific Service Request were handled.


There are around 1600 businesses that operate within the area that are subject to LA enforcement in this regard.


For 2014/15, officers were involved in a number of health and safety specific projects. These ranged from violence in the workplace, management of slip and trips in food businesses to vehicle/pedestrian safety and the planned introduction of the Workplace Wellbeing Charter.


For 2015/16 we are continuing the struck by vehicle project and the violence at work and in addition lasers, skin piercing, falls from height and falls from childrens play equipment.


Currently the Borough is not tasked with any national projects coordinated by the HSE; however Berkshire wide projects of microbiology in swimming pools and hot and cold water systems in care homes are being undertaken.


Food Hygiene and Notifiable Infectious Disease Control

The team are responsible for the enforcement of food legislation in around 970 food businesses. Of these there are around 850 premises that fall within the scope of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme; around 3% fall below a rating of 2 (improvement necessary) and we have 96% businesses classified as broadly compliant with food legislation.


Accredited training opportunities in food hygiene are also offered at Wokingham.


Currently we are running a project of education aimed at the zero and one score food premises to assist them in raising their standards prior to their next formal assessment.


During 2014/15, there were 274 formal notifications received that related to food poisoning/food borne illness. This was slightly up on the previous year.


To complement good standards of food hygiene, food businesses were offered the opportunity to participate in a scheme designed to raise nutritional awareness. This was introduced in 2012 and is supported by the service in terms of carrying out menu assessments and providing accredited CIEH training in nutrition and healthy eating. The scheme, Eat Out Eat Well has 27 outlets signed up in the Wokingham area.


Food Safety

Broad Compliant Figures


Compliance of food establishments (FE’s) with food hygiene law is measured on a 0-5 scale (the score as reflected in the FSA Food Hygiene Rating Scheme) The term “Broadly Compliant” refers to any FE attaining one of the top three FHRS ratings (3-5). 

  • Broad compliance for food hygiene across the UK in 2013/14 was 91.7%,
  • Broad compliance for food hygiene across Berkshire in 2013/14 was 93.27%,

  • Broad compliance for food hygiene in Wokingham in 2013/14 was 96.52%, 

Notifiable Infectious Disease & Food Hygiene

It is estimated that each year in the UK approximately one million people suffer a food borne illness, around 20,000 people receive hospital treatment due to food borne illness and around 500 deaths are caused with a cost to the UK economy of £1.5 billion each year (FSA). 


Health and Safety in the workplace

Key figures for Great Britain (2014/15).

The general approach to health and safety in the workplace is that of allowing self-regulation, encouraging good practice and tackling, through enforcement, the worst offenders.  However, HSE figures estimate nationally that;

  • 1.2 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
  • 2,538 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2013)
  • 142 workers killed at work
  • 76,000 other injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
  • 611,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey
  • 27.3 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury

£14.3 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2013/14).


For food hygiene there are still some poor performers and a high demand for the advisory service.


The Eat Out Eat Well scheme has been well received by those premises who have gone through the process but has the potential to be far more reaching in the objective to reduce levels obesity and associated morbidity and mortality.  Other Authorities also operate the scheme, (e.g. Bath & Surrey) and it is planned to expand the scheme further.  However, in the past business feedback from seminars run by West Berkshire cited that cost of training and time taken undertake assessments were viewed negatively.  We tried offering training for a reduced rate in West Berkshire however the uptake was still low.  We are looking at ways to encourage businesses to want to take part in the scheme, this includes a designated website for the award and all officers discussing the scheme at interventions with businesses.


For health and safety it is more complicated due to the Government instruction to reduce proactive inspections of premises and to reduce the burden on business.  It is accepted that the database used is out of date as the requirement on businesses to register with us has been relaxed and we are discouraged from contacting new and unrated premises.


Health and Safety, Infectious Diseases & Food Poisoning 

There does not appear to be any strong correlation with deprivation indices for these subjects.  


Given circumstances such as the current economic climate, unemployment, compliance rates, increasing obesity and numbers of enquiries taken by the service this is also an area that would benefit from better understanding.


It is proposed that the services operated by the department could be used to benefit the wider community whilst benefiting the service.  For example, accredited hygiene and nutritional courses may provide young adults not in employment, education or training (NEET), with the basic skills of hygiene and nutritional importance and networking opportunities. This, in turn, provides better opportunity through qualification; businesses have a better pool of candidates from which to recruit; enforcement officers have the opportunity to provide advice on a 1:1 basis to those ‘on the ground’ and the public can be better assured that the industry as a whole has trained personnel. Key stakeholders include jobcentres, connexions, adult and youth services, empowerment agencies and businesses.

  • Provide funding for training to food business in nutritional matters
  • Provide funding for training to individuals NEET
  • Support further study into the wider effects of commercial health and safety compliance
  • Undertake further study into the effects the Eat Out Eat Well scheme has on the local nutritional picture (similar work was carried out in Surrey)
  • Support the running of the nationally recognised workplace wellbeing charter