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Fire service’s efforts to cut staff injuries lands it a top RoSPA safety award


The UK’s largest non-metropolitan fire and rescue service has secured a top health and safety award after reducing the number of injuries to firefighters and other staff by nearly 40 per cent in three years.

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service launched an improvement programme on the back of recommendations by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

It led to staff injuries dropping from 216 during the 2009/10 to 136 in 2011/12 – a fall of 80 casualties (37 per cent).

In recognition of the efforts made, RoSPA has presented the Fire and Rescue Service with a Diamond award – the highest level in the accident prevention charity’s Quality Safety Audit (QSA) award scheme, which rewards health and safety management improvements and helps organisations to boost workplace safety.

Lee Howell, chief fire officer of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “We were delighted to receive the RoSPA QSA Diamond award. We have found the auditing process thorough and helpful in identifying areas for improvement.

“We are particularly proud of the 37 per cent reduction in injuries achieved since the programme began. The Service is committed to a Zero Harm initiative and receiving the highest score level on RoSPA’s Quality Safety Audit is an excellent milestone on this path.

“The Service is a much safer workplace for staff and the people we serve. It means employees have confidence in our health and safety systems, and in turn, they are more confident in what they do.”

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, which has 85 fire stations and 2,300 staff, launched the Zero Harm scheme last year, which increased the size of its health and safety department by almost 50 per cent and created a new organisational safety assurance department.

Staff injuries - half of which related to manual handling, slips, trips and falls - reduced at the same time as health and safety management improvements, which included raising awareness of occupational health issues and putting a significant amount of resources into safety.

Frances Richardson, director of operations at RoSPA, said: “Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service is a worthy recipient of the QSA Diamond award, placing it as one of only two fire and rescue services to attain this level.

“Efforts made by managers saw the Service move up in the annual audit from level two to the highest, level five, in less than three years, which is unusual and highly commendable. They have a very impressive facility in Exeter.”

The RoSPA website includes more information on its Quality Safety Audit.

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