SIC faces ‘serious situation’ after auditor highlights wide-ranging safety failings

Wide ranging safety failings at the SIC have been met with grave concerns from elected representatives.

The issues, highlighted at today’s audit committee, include concerns around building inspections, fire risk assessments and first aid, among others. 

Committee chairman Allison Duncan said it was a “serious situation” , which needs to be “rectified as quickly as possible”.

Councillor Moraig Lyall said the report highlighted a “wide range of failings and gaps”, many dating back more than a year. 

Auditor Duncan Black, presenting the report, said the problems fell under three main areas.

He said a shortage of staff in the health and safety team – which had just one full time worker –  had made it difficult to monitor compliance with the expected controls.

Mr Black also said “ambiguity” in roles and responsibilities meant some premises managers were not aware  they needed to carry out safety inspections on their buildings. 

Finally, he said the health and safety system itself needed updating as it wasn’t being used to follow up on reported incidents

The council’s director of corporate services, Christine Ferguson, said the issues were being looked into.

However, she highlighted “enormous pressures” council services faced during the pandemic which meant the prioritisation of emergency responses had been “totally unprecedented”.

With limited resources she said “something had to give” and acknowledged “we have struggled” but assured members the council had kept on top of the situation. 

She said much of the work over the past year had been focussed on creating new systems to respond to the pandemic, rather looking at reviewing the existing systems.

Mr Duncan acknowledged the council staff were doing a “magnificent job under extreme circumstances”.

“I can’t thank the staff and praise them enough for what they’ve done with this Covid-19 situation – not forgetting the other public sector workers as well,” he added.

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