Report on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's planning and preparedness for COVID-19 (Light Touch Review)
4. Risks and Issues Reported
1. The availability of disposable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a concern following on from NHS England communications to suppliers that they should supply the NHS only. This has been raised internally within the SFRS to the SFRS Gold Command Group. The SFRS is in close co-ordination with the Scottish Government over PPE and a collaborative PPE subgroup has been established to look at requirements across the emergency services in order to collaboratively procure additional appropriate PPE, in accordance with EU procurement directives. The SFRS is also looking at cleaning and maintenance requirements for structural fire kit and breathing apparatus. The SFRS has also established a PPE and Policy Sub Group as part of its actions in support of the response to COVID-19. It has also established a Community Resilience Assistance Group to liaise with Local Resilience Partnerships to consider local needs and feedback, to support national delivery.
2. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is not currently relaxing regulations, specifically regarding; Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). This is impacting upon the 'safe working at height' and 'rope and rescue operational response'. This has been raised internally within the SFRS to the Gold Command Team. The objective of the LOLER regulations is to make working life safer for all workers who come into contact with lifting equipment. The HSE has also not made a relaxation of the HSE Display Screen Equipment Regulations (DSE). The DSE regulations place specific requirements on employers with the aim of protecting workers from the health risks associated with DSE. Concerns regarding the LOLER and DSE Regulations are being carefully monitored by officials and they have been raised strategically within the Scottish Government, coordinated via the Safer Communities and Justice Division Hub and are being fed into SGoRR.
3. Childcare provision for critical workers remains a concern, as some Local Authorities have not given clarity yet as to critical workers. This has been raised internally within the SFRS to the Gold Command Team. The SFRS is not reporting any significant impact on the availability of firefighters caused by the closure of schools, despite the childcare provisions not being extended beyond NHS staff in many Local Authority areas. However, the situation is being monitored and raised within the Scottish Government, with coordination via the Safer Communities and Justice Division Hub and fed into SGoRR.