Health & Safety

Welcome to the LAS Unison Branch Health and Safety Page

‘No one should be made ill by their work’
(ref: LAS Manual Handling Policy)

UNISON and the LAS Branch take your Health & Safety seriously.
It is important that we receive feedback on Health & Safety issues raised on this page and that we are notified of any new possible risks.
Please use our new feedback form to notify us or if you have any comments or suggestions about this site.

I cannot over emphasise the importance of completing Datix Report Forms as these are quite literally the life blood of Health and Safety – they give a true reflection of what staff have to face on a day to day basis and form the foundation of any arguments/proof of the need for change to both our working conditions and the equipment we use.

AGM Report 2017

Health and Safety:

It has been another busy year for Health and Safety in the London Ambulance Service, I think it would be safe to say that every shift there are scenarios where staff risk their own Health and Safety in one way or another. Therefore, I cannot over emphasise the importance of completing Datix reports as these are quite literally the life blood of Health and Safety – they give a true reflection of what staff have to face on a day to day basis and form the foundation of our arguments/proof of the need for change to our working conditions.  The subject headings below are just a small selection of what has been going on over the last twelve months. Please feel free to contact me on these or any other Health and Safety matter. (contact details below)


There is no doubt the long awaited Datix reporting system has vastly improved Incident/ Accident information gathering. We are now able to run detailed reports quickly and accurately, from staff musculoskeletal injuries to equipment failures. Body mapping (the ability to identify the most commonly effected areas of injury) we can now target ways of reducing risk and thereby reducing those identified injuries. At the time of writing LA277’s are being trialled on Datix and we look forward to their roll out on the electronic reporting system.

Frontline Ambulances:

This year will see a revolutionary new Ambulance roll out onto the frontline (no not vans with a ramp – I will come to those later) I am talking external tail lifts. We have seen the new design and believe a trial will begin shortly. The cab and saloon are very similar to the old design but operation of the tail lift is completely different. We (staff side Health and Safety) strongly believe that if we make changes then they should always be for the better, whist the external tail lift does without doubt bring improvements (security, retain heat) overall (in my opinion) the basic operation of both deploying and stowing the tail lift is in its self a step backwards, when compared to what we currently use. We have 140 on order and  look forward to receiving staff feedback.  Finally, a quick update on the ramp van conversions – we are still waiting for a date to carry out a Risk Assessment before the trial can begin.

Bariatric Response:

Whilst this area of response is so sadly lacking from the LAS repertoire, it has at least moved in the right direction throughout 2016 although it could only be described as moving at a snails pace! As a group we have submitted recommendations (at the end of February 2017) and await the boards decision. The long and short of it however, is that no money has been allocated and neither has any vehicles/ equipment or training been purchased or provided throughout the 2016/17 financial year. We will keep you posted.

Violence Against Staff:

Reported attacks on staff increased once again in 2016. A group is to be formed to look at ways of not only reducing assaults on staff (improved ) but improving support post assault and increasing the number of prosecutions.

Staff Mental Health:

I think it would be safe to say stress levels have never been as high as they are now for frontline staff. From listening to staff in recent months, the only conclusion I can come to is that we now need an independent review of just how widespread this issue is. We just want to let staff know we are aware and it is something we will be pushing to the fore front throughout 2017.

Manual Handling:

Unfortunately, this has been non existent yet again not only for 2016/17 but for the last few years. As a Service we seem to care very little for staff well being when it comes to manual handling training. Back injuries are the most commonly reported injury and have been for the last five years and yet not one single CSR session throughout 2016/17 delivered any musculoskeletal training. Very disappointing and totally unacceptable.

Private Property Accident Cover:

I have saved the best till last – at the January Corporate Health and Safety Committee meeting it was announced from April 2017 Personal Insurance Cover will be available for frontline staff. We would like to thank the Service for once again taking the lead in providing this cover for our staff, as we believe no other Ambulance Service in this country offers this protection to its front line staff. This has been a fifteen month campaign.

Eric Roberts:

No end of year Unison report would be complete without mentioning the sad death of our Branch Secretary and Unison President Eric Roberts. I knew Eric for over fourteen years and he will be sadly missed by all of us who serve the staff of the London Ambulance Service on the Unison Branch. Rest In Peace Eric.

Thank You:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our Health and Safety representatives for their hard work over the last twelve months and remember, if you have any Health and Safety concerns you can contact me at or alternatively you can call me on 07719973199. I look forward to working with you all in 2017/18


Ian Lee

Unison Branch

Health and Safety

Frontline Ramp and Winch Ambulance/Van – Update

We understand Management would like to go to trial with the three ramp winch vehicles in early January. At the time of writing no Risk Assessment has been completed on these van conversions  being trialled for frontline use  – we (staff side) have raised our concerns regarding the musculoskeletal risks involved in walking backwards up a ramp whilst balancing a patient on a two wheeled chair – with that in mind, the Risk Assessment should make interesting reading as the first question will be – can the Risk be avoided? And of course our answer will be – yes it can – its called a tail lift and we have had them on frontline Ambulances for over ten years. The Risk Assessment is a legal requirement.


Faulty Ambulance Heater

If its cold and the heater on your Ambulance is faulty please get it fixed. PD33 will quote 5 degrees Celsius – this minimum number has no foundation and I have been unable to establish where the figure of 5 degrees originates from. Inform PD33 you are a Clinician and have concerns over the well being of your patient. If they still refuse please continue and complete a Datix report with the initials of the person at PD33.

The law states the following:

Temperatures in the indoor workplace are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which place a legal obligation on employers to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace.

Minimum workplace temperature:

The Approved Code of Practice suggests the MINIMUM temperature in a workplace should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius. If the work involves rigorous physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. These temperatures are not absolute legal requirements; the employer has a duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in the particular circumstances.


It is a concern if Entonox is stored under 10°C and BOC guidance is that it should be above this critical temperature for over 24 hours before use.

Trolley Bed Mattress Trial

We look forward to hearing the decision on the trolley bed mattress trial  – the response we received from staff across the Service was very positive. A report was subsequently completed and submitted with the response from Management due any time now – we will keep you posted.

Spit Kits

According to the ‘Pulse’ spit kits were available on frontline vehicles from May 12th – unfortunately, this is not correct. Although we have been repeatedly assured all the hard work has been done as of the time or writing they are still not available for frontline staff.  The cause of the delay is unknown.

Staff Assaults

When it comes to front line Ambulance work it would appear London is the most dangerous place to work. New stats released show you are more likely to be assaulted working for the LAS than any other Ambulance Service. In 2015/16 a total number of 439 assaults were reported an increase of 14% on the previous year (385).

Obviously, this a serious concern  especially when coupled to the shortage of handsets available to frontline staff.  We (staff side Health and Safety) are not convinced the staff post assault support process is as robust as it could be or the long term traumatic effects assaults have on staff are fully understood.

The number of prosecutions for assaulting LAS staff  does not reflect the increase in assaults .  Over the coming months we will be working with the Security Manager to improve this unacceptable divide.

Manual Handling Training – Back Again?

Over the last five years 80% of claims made by staff against the Service have been musculoskeletal related. Back injury remains the number one cause of staff injuries – since 2012 only thirty minutes of Core Skill Refresher (CSR) training has been dedicated to manual handling.

We received an Improvement Notice from the Health and Safety Executive in 2010 for failure to provide manual handling training and yet still the Service refuses to provide front line staff with regular manual handling training despite the fact this a legal requirement.

At the beginning of 2016 we made yet another request for manual handling to be included in CSR training with part of the session dedicated to moving Bariatric patients.  Request refused.

However, I understand manual handling training was in the running for CSR 2016.3 but unfortunately, missed out to Information Governance –

We will keep you posted on all these issues