Barnet UNISON seriously health and safety concerns about building works at the depot

On Monday 18 November 2019 building works begin at the purpose built depot.

“There may be disruption to bin collection services while we carry out urgent work at Oakleigh Depot which is where our recycling and waste services are mainly run from.

Urgent work is being carried out to fix the issue of the ground movement, so that we can continue to run services safely from the depot.

Recycling and refuse collections may take place later into the day up until 10pm.”

(Source: https://www.barnet.gov.uk/depotworks)

Basically a large section of road in the depot over 200 metres or more is at risk of sliding down the hill into Oakleigh Road South.

Barnet UNISON members have been raising serious concerns about the land movement for almost 18 months. It is disappointing that the concerns of the workforce and the trade unions were ignored and now the damage requires a serious engineering intervention that will take up to six months to complete.

Today Friday 15 November 2019, Barnet UNISON has not had a single risk assessment about the major building works that are due to start on Monday. The depot is already under pressure due to the subsidence which makes traffic movement a critical risk. We have had ongoing problems with lighting in the mornings and serious concerns about the state of the Brogans site for the vehicles. It is clear the haste to move into Brogans without making it fit for purpose is being made at the expense of the health and safety of our members.

Request after request have been submitted requesting the risks assessments none have been made available.

The following Health and Safety legislation applies has been ignored:

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations, 1977.Regulation 7

Inspection of documents and provision of information.

(1)       Safety representatives shall for the performance of their functions under section 2(4) of the 1974 Act and under these Regulations, if they have given the employer reasonable notice, be entitled to inspect and take copies of any document relevant to the workplace or to the employees the safety representatives represent which the employer is required to keep by virtue of any relevant statutory provision within the meaning of section 53(1) of the 1974 Act except a document consisting of or relating to any health record of an identifiable individual.

Barnet UNISON: Fail  

Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974

2 (6) It shall be the duty of every employer to consult any such representatives with a view to the making and maintenance of arrangements which will enable him and his employees to co-operate effectively in promoting and developing measures to ensure the health and safety at work of the employees, and in checking the effectiveness of such measures.

Barnet UNISON: Fail  

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations, 1977. Regulation 4A

(1) Without prejudice to the generality of section 2(6) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, every employer shall consult safety representatives in good time with regard to – (a) the introduction of any measure at the workplace which may substantially affect the health and safety of the employees the safety representatives concerned represent;

Barnet UNISON: Fail  

In light of the above Barnet UNISON has no option but to escalate this matter in order that our members are safe at work.

If you are a Barnet UNISON member working at the Depot and have any questions or concerns please ring our Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

Good News: Housing options staying in Barnet House.

Last week staff working for Barnet Homes were informed that the Housing Options service would not be moving to Colindale.

This is a sensible decision. This service is probably the most high profile and potentially volatile work environment. Due to the brutal crushing impact of austerity those who need this service have often been refused access to services. They are desperate and very vulnerable. Last year we had a fatality. It was a tragedy and it had a profound impact on many of the staff who were working there that day. This is a service that need space for residents and their families to be able to speak to staff in a safe environment.

The space allocated at Colindale was never going to be suitable.

For the time being the service is remaining at Barnet House in which case it does need some money spent on it to make it a better environment for all that use and or work there.

End.

Barnet UNISON gives Capita Estates service the Red Card

Last Monday all of the Waste and Recycling service started from Oakleigh depot. Due to a serious strategic mistake Barnet Council sold off their own depot which was based in the centre of the borough (Mill Hill) before they had secured an alternative.

As a result a small depot was built in Oakleigh Road South (east of the borough). This depot was not big enough which meant that Barnet Council had go to cap in hand to Harrow Council to pay to base some of their services from their depot.

Workers couldn’t believe it. They shook their heads in disbelief but then just got on with the job.

The costs of operating out of the depot have become a burden that can no longer be sustained and Barnet UNISON welcomes the attempt to re-unite what was previously united.

Barnet Council is now using the former Brogans depot for the extra vehicles.

Why the red card?

Early in September Barnet UNISON reported that the lighting was not working in the depot. It seems to take forever to get things fixed in the depot. This is not a criticism of the operational management as the estate service is run by Capita.

As the date of the move back from Harrow drew close Barnet UNISON again pressed for the lighting to be fixed. The extra vehicles increased our anxiety of the risk to the health and safety of our members.

It is important to remember that the existing site is about to become a building site as urgent engineer works are about to start to stop the depot sliding down the hill into Oakleigh Road South. This means the traffic management is under increased pressure.

On Monday 4 November I was sent pictures by our members to confirm that lighting was not on. It was predictable but UNISON hoped that this time things might change.

Day after day UNISON was contacted all week, five days in a row lighting problems down the depot.

Red Card

On Friday UNISON spoke with operational management to say that this could not continue and that measures must be put in place to secure the health and safety of the depot.

Barnet UNISON has attended the Committee meetings where the Capita contract was reviewed. For a short period the Estate function was down to come back in-house. However, in December 2018 Barnet Council once again let Capita off the hook.

Barnet UNISON is demanding the Estate service is brought back in-house our staff health and safety must not be compromised.

More later…….

Good News: Street Scene service moving out of Harrow depot

Barnet UNISON will never understand how a major strategic decision like moving the Council depot was made without a viable option was available to the Council frontline services.

What happened was a classic fudge/ad hoc/make do. To put it simply it has been a disaster.

The Waste and Recycling and Street Cleansing services were split between the new depot in Oakleigh Road South and London Borough of Harrow depot.

Not only was it bad operationally it was expensive and the ongoing costs have been a constant strain on the service.

The Gritting service was also moved to Harrow and we all know what happened when we had a bad winter two years ago despite the heroic efforts of the workforce to try and make it work.

It was never going to work. The staff across all services have tried their best to make it work. The fact that staffing budgets were also cut simply added to the problem. .

What didn’t help and still doesn’t help is seeing that the Capita contracts have cashed in to the tune of £438 million since the contract started which is £165.6 million more than the contract value. Try explaining that to workers whose pay or pensions has been messed up by Capita or to the staff working at Oakleigh who have seen their branch new depot splitting like it has been hit by a minor earth quake.

What is the good news?

The good news is that the Brogans site which has been empty for a long time has been secured by Barnet Council.

This means the whole of the Waste and Recycling service is now running out of Oakleigh Depot. However we are still running Street Cleansing out of Harrow which means we are still paying rent on the Harrow site and now the Brogans site.

Depot Building works

The depot has some serious problems the subsidence has split the road and there appears to be real risk of a landslide which is something that has happened in the past. This risk was clearly sufficiently serious for the Council to arrange for buildings works to begin sometime in November this year.

Rounds changes.

As a result of the major building works at the depot there is an impact on the Bin collection service. Barnet Council has written to residents about the changes.

It is disappointing that the changes had not been run by the drivers. This mistake was made with the previous Bin collection changes.

There is nothing we can do now.

It remains to be seen if the proposed changes will work.

Our grave concerns about Barnet Council “Mind the gap” depot.

Barnet UNISON read with dismay the following report entitled “Oakleigh Depot Remedial Works” which is going to Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday 3 October 2019.

(Source: https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s55442/Oakleigh%20Depot%20Remedial%20Works.pdf

What’s it all about?

The issue of subsidence was noted by Barnet UNISON from the moment we moved into Oakleigh depot in August 2017.

The report which is going to Policy and Resources Committee does not reference the significant involvement of Capita.

Capita Property & Infrastructure Ltd (“Capita”) provided the following report entitled: The “Oakleigh Road South Depot Phase 2 Ground Investigation & Assessment April 2015 report” and the “Soil Stabilisation report dated 1 February 2017”.

Here are the two key documents

Barnet UNISON has over the last 18 months attempted to work with Council officials to ensure safe working at the depot. However once the crack opened up across the road and the fuel tank area was splitting from the pavement, management stopped sharing vital information.

Below is a summary of UNISON requests for information.

  • August 2017. UNISON raised concerns over the sufficiency of reinforcement measures to prevent ground movement at the depot.

The Council responded that it did not believe that the reinforcement was insufficient.

  • March 2018. At a meeting with the Council UNISON asked if the Council had investigated the problem and what plans had been made for repairs. We asked for the surveyor’s report which the Council had commissioned.

We were given details on the plans for repairs and have not yet received a surveyor’s report.

  • July 2018. UNISON submitted an Inspection report for the depot which identified that the rifts in the surface had widened and deepened and extended over a larger area.

The report included a request for the relevant surveyor’s reports and asked what contingency plans for the service were in place if vehicles were prevented from using the depot should repair works be needed.

We received neither the surveyor’s report nor any information on a contingency plan

  • September 2018. At a meeting with the Council, UNISON repeated our request for a surveyor’s report.
  • January 2019. Following another UNISON inspection of the depot which noted that the fissures and subsidence had not been repaired the Council’s response was that the situation was being monitored and there was no imminent danger. UNISON requests for details of the monitoring where not met.

 

What does the “Oakleigh Depot Remedial Works” report say?

In paragraph 1.10 it states “With health and safety a priority…….” and in paragraph 3.1 it states: “Officer have been unable to identify options that have no, or lesser, impact on service. The option to do nothing was discounted due to health and safety risk.”

In paragraph 5.5.1 refers to an “Environment risk register” it goes on add “To manage health and safety risk, the council’s health and safety lead is reviewing proposals alongside operational staff. Additional health and safety capacity will be brought in if and when required.”

The reason for our grave concerns is that Barnet UNISON was unaware of any Health and Safety risks at the depot because someone in the Council had made a decision not to share this information. This shocking revelation that there are health and safety risks raises serious questions marks as to who decided not to share information with the trade unions.

Health and Safety legislation is very clear:

“Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations, 1977.Regulation 7 Inspection of documents and provision of information.

(1)       Safety representatives shall for the performance of their functions under section 2(4) of the 1974 Act and under these Regulations, if they have given the employer reasonable notice, be entitled to inspect and take copies of any document relevant to the workplace or to the employees the safety representatives represent which the employer is required to keep by virtue of any relevant statutory provision within the meaning of section 53(1) of the 1974 Act except a document consisting of or relating to any health record of an identifiable individual.”

Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974

“2 (6) It shall be the duty of every employer to consult any such representatives with a view to the making and maintenance of arrangements which will enable him and his employees to co-operate effectively in promoting and developing measures to ensure the health and safety at work of the employees, and in checking the effectiveness of such measures.”

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations, 1977. Regulation 4A

“(1) Without prejudice to the generality of section 2(6) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, every employer shall consult safety representatives in good time with regard to – (a) the introduction of any measure at the workplace which may substantially affect the health and safety of the employees the safety representatives concerned represent;”

In light of the publication of the above report Barnet UNISON wrote to all three authors of the Council “Oakleigh Depot Remedial Works” report.

We have made the following demands:

  1. All reports/documents in relation to the ‘crack’ which identify health and safety issues are provided to the trade unions by the end of the week, including all data relating to ground movement.
  2. A weekly update meeting to take place at the depot with the trade union health and safety reps.

Failure to provide the information above will mean Barnet UNISON has no option but to contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

View reports click on links below

CH-SSP-UK-MGridEG-Oakleigh Road South Depot-Rev 01 Feb 17

15_04005_FUL-SITE_INVESTIGATION_REPORT-3112004 (1) (1)

 

 

Call out in solidarity for local democracy in Barnet 30 July 2019

On Tuesday 30 July 2019, 7pm in Hendon Town Hall, Barnet Council will vote on a proposal that in will restrict Barnet residents’ ability to ask questions and speak at future Council Committee meetings.

The London Borough of Barnet has a wealth of community activism which includes Barnet Bloggers (Mr Reasonable, Mrs Angry, Mr Mustard and Barnet Eye) and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) to name just a few.

Their contributions over the last decade have largely been supportive of the services our members provide.

However, their contribution to future committees will virtually cease if the proposed rule change is passed at Full Council on 30 July 2019.

Barnet residents have responded by setting up a petition entitled “Stop Barnet Council From Gagging Residents”

You and read and sign in solidarity by clicking on this link here

https://t.co/P7sb0e3KNU?amp=1

Barnet UNISON is asking members to show solidarity by joining Barnet residents on Tuesday 30 July outside Hendon Town Hall from 6 pm onwards.

“Breathe Life – How air pollution impacts your body”

Barnet UNISON notes the dangers air pollution can have on our members working in Barnet.

We have already started discussions with Barnet Council about what can be done to mitigate the dangers of breathing in polluted air.

It is important our members understand the risks and what measures their employer can take to help both mitigate and or reduce the risk of air pollution.

The following video entitled “Breathe Life – How air pollution impacts your body” was made by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is a short and easy to understand video.

There is a Climate Emergency and it is impacting on all of us now. It would be wrong to ignore it. Action is needed now. Please keep up to date by ensuring you receive our weekly Barnet UNISON eNews email by contacting the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

 

1 2 3 4