The challenge arose for Islington Council when regulations concerning the outsourcing of health and safety services for schools were amended by the Government. The changes meant that schools within the London Boroughs were no longer required to outsource their health and safety services to their local council and instead, if desired, could look elsewhere to employ the services of independent organisations.
Therefore, it was vital for the council to provide a competitive solution, not only to support its schools but also to protect an important source of revenue.
“Here at Islington Council, we are faced with a wide-variety of risks on a daily basis and require a robust management system to ensure that the health and safety processes we are responsible for run like clockwork” says Donna.
Islington Council’s health and safety management was predominantly conducted via more traditional paper-based methods. Not only was this practice considerably more time-consuming, but it also increased the risk of issues such as manual reporting errors, costly delays, and key compliance issues being overlooked.
Faced with an open and competitive marketplace, Islington Council immediately recognised the need to enhance its services by providing a robust solution that would supply schools with a comprehensive health and safety management service; thus, protecting an important client base and reducing the need to look for alternative solutions.
The first step for Islington Council’s dedicated Health and Safety Services Team was to establish the options available.
The solution had to be fit for the education sector, whilst also aligning with the council’s own practices. It was quickly decided that an off-the-shelf product was not sufficient and that a bespoke system was required.
To achieve this, Islington Council took a progressive leap forward, and in 2009, took the decision to overhaul its accident incident reporting by investing in a new information management system – Alcumus Info Exchange.
The introduction of Info Exchange meant that everyone responsible for carrying out health and safety management practices in schools, and at the council, could benefit from using an innovative platform that would save valuable time and resource. It enabled all schools in the borough with an easy-to-access online system that streamlined health and safety management practices. It enabled users to report H&S incidents, log key audit data, and also grant easy access to a wealth of essential information & documents in one centrally-stored source.
“A core reason for investing further in Info Exchange and the longstanding partnership with solution provider, Alcumus, is that the Council benefits from the team’s expertise and consultancy advice, as well as ideas on how to improve the current offering. I often have a ‘wish list’ of ideas to continually improve our management systems and can rely on Alcumus to devise a suitable solution wherever possible, instead of trying to sell products and services that the Council will not benefit from.”
Several years on, Info Exchange remains at the heart of Islington Council and continues to be a comprehensive system that incorporates key information management areas, such as: incident reporting for the entire Council, tracking of important staff training, asbestos, vaccination requirements and eye tests, and secure storage for all the Council’s health and safety documentation in a central location.
Having the ability to add new modules to the existing Info Exchange platform has also provided the council with clear budget benefits. Instead of having to pay a large, upfront cost, Islington Council has been able to extend the platform gradually. This has not only provided greater cost control, but has minimised internal disruption that could have been caused by retraining staff on entirely new systems.
Crucially, Info Exchange also enables the Council’s Health and Safety Services team to manage all aspects of risk assessments, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) management, Alcumus ISOQAR certification, and compliance requirements – including Legionella, PAT testing and Asbestos, in a more efficient way. Additionally, the Council uses the software to manage the bookings and scheduling of its fire safety training – which is another essential revenue stream for the organisation.