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City of York Council has published its annual Health and Safety Report.

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The report discussed a variety of risk areas being managed by the council such as fire safety, alcohol and substance misuse and the council’s lone working arrangements. The report also covers the wide range of initiatives the council has put in place to improve and reduce those risks and the incidents.

Following the publication of the report, the council is taking specific action to reduce the number of incidents involving verbal abuse, violence or aggression. Whilst overall work related incidents have decreased by around 11% compared to 2016/17, incidents involving verbal abuse, violence and aggression remains the second most common cause and has increased over the past year from 68 to 78 cases reported.

Cllr Andrew Waller, Deputy Leader of the Council, Responsible for Environment, said:

“As a council, we want to promote a safe working environment both for the benefit of our staff and the citizens with whom we work. Whilst the issue of verbal abuse, aggression and violence reflects a wide range of societal factors, it’s important we make it clear that we do not tolerate this behaviour and are doing all we can to prevent it.”

The council has recently updated its social media policy to increase staff awareness and ability to report and prevent online abuse. The policy is one of many initiatives which empower staff and demonstrate that this behaviour will not be accepted.

In addition to new policies, the City of York council is evaluating its lone working arrangements for staff and councillors and a wide range of actions are being considered and undertaken to reduce related risks

Whilst it was not expected that there would be an increase in the amount of incidents of this nature reported; it must also be noted that the past two years have seen improvements in staff’s ability to easily report incidents through the provision of an online incident portal. The portal is accessible from computers, tablets and mobile phones. In addition, the council has improved training to raise awareness of the reporting process and of staff responsibility to log and report any incidents.