Islington Council Case Study
Investing in health and safety
A Need for Change
Islington Council represents a diverse community that incorporates both a thriving economy and high levels of poverty. With 19,000 households, the Council provides a wide range of services, with each presenting an element of risk that must be managed effectively.
A core focus for Islington Council is the education sector and, historically, the organisation has been responsible for the health and safety management of 85 schools in the borough. As a main priority, the school system is an important revenue source for the Council that must be constantly maintained.
However, six years ago, Islington Council was faced with a potentially critical dilemma regarding this key revenue stream (along with all the other London borough councils) 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.
Finding the Best Solution
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 2 (IE2).
The introduction of IE2 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.
Prior to adopting the web-based platform, 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.
The introduction of IE2 provided 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.
Building on Success
Following the successful installation of the new software solution, Islington Council reviewed other areas of the business to identify where additional changes could bring further benefits. With reassurance that the technology was tailored for purpose and would support other commercial streams, the health and safety team set about implementing new bespoke modules throughout the Council’s other information management systems, further enhancing the platform and its application.
Six years on, IE2 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.
Crucially, IE2 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.
Having the ability to add new modules to the existing IE2 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.
Donna Lewis, Corporate Health & Safety Manager at Islington Council said: “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.
“For us, the IE2 platform has radically improved our health and safety practices since we first introduced it six years ago. The system has raised the profile of our work, saved valuable resource, and enables us to provide a more efficient service to the community we serve, including schools, businesses and residents.
“A core reason for investing further in IE2 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.”
Toby South, Director at Alcumus Info Exchange, said: “Islington Council has made a significant commitment to improve its health and safety practices, and the team here at Alcumus has worked very closely with them over the years to develop a completely bespoke solution. The IE2 platform comprises a wide range of applications that enable the Council to manage and reduce risk, spot key incident trends, and save valuable resource by operating a robust system.
“It’s a really positive sign for us that the platform is working well for Islington Council. We tailor our software to each client’s individual needs and the team prides itself on delivering each client’s ‘wish list’ wherever possible.”
Alcumus Info Exchange is the market-leading web-based software solution to manage risk, compliance and governance, and is used by more than 100,000 users worldwide, including 12 London borough councils. The configurable system has been developed by Alcumus – the UK’s market-leading provider of technology-enabled business assurance and compliance risk management solutions.
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