Minutes of HSENI Senior Management Team meeting - July 2020

Minutes of the Senior Management Team (SMT) meeting held on Wednesday 1 July 2020 at 9:30am (via zoom) 

Attendees:

  • R Kidd - Chair and Chief Executive
  • L Burns - Deputy Chief Executive
  • N Monson - Deputy Chief Executive
  • B Monson - Deputy Chief Executive
  • K Neeson - Deputy Chief Executive

1. Apologies

There were no apologies.

2. Minutes from the previous meeting

The Chief Executive noted that the last formal minuted meeting was in March prior to lockdown. During the period April - June SMT had many discussions to address specific issues.

3. Action Points

The action point list was worked through.

  • Temporary Promotion to Deputy Chief Executive Exercise – Completed
  • Operating Plan – A revised version will be shared with the board in the next week and subject their comments will then be submitted to Minister for approval.

4. Corporate Health, Safety and Welfare

Mental health and wellbeing measures exist for staff and these have been communicated. Staff will have seen the guidance from the Head of the civil service setting out the position going forward and current guidance is that staff should work from home where they can. Issues which require access to the building were discussed and measures are being considered to facilitate these going forward. The feedback from Heads of Group is that remote working is not creating any significant challenges to staff and they have adapted well.

5. Audit, Risk Management and Finance 

There was a discussion on the recent Audit Risk Management Committee meeting and in particular one of the Internal Audit exercises which attracted a number of recommended actions and a plan is now in place to address these. SMT also noted recent guidance from the Northern Ireland Audit Office which requires annual reports to include reference to the Covid-19 lockdown period from 1 April to late June although it extends into the next reporting year.

Emerging Risks

Challenges around EU Exit. Concerns around inconsistency and how easements in a social setting can lead to challenges in taking enforcement or offering advice to people in the workplace The risk of a second wave of Covid-19 and the impact on workload again and the ability to respond to normal work activities again.

Staffing generally was noted – HSENI is soon to lose 2 experienced Principal Inspectors and has 8 trainees who are facing an interruption to their Regulatory Training Programme and this impacts on available inspectors.

SMT noted that a budget meeting is scheduled for Friday to discuss a number of issues in relation to staffing and programme.

6. HR

L Burns advised SMT that a number of vacancies exist at main-grade inspector as well as Assistant Scientific Officer and we have the impending loss of 2 Principal Inspectors in the autumn. SMT also noted that Handover Guidance was issued by the Department and work is being carried out to create an HSENI specific version taking account of issues relating to the organisation as an Non Departmental Public Body.

7. Case and Project Work

Major Investigation Team update

SMT noted that measures are being looked at in order to open the building to visitors to facilitate interviews and witness statements to be taken in regard to ongoing investigations. There was a discussion on some aspects of joint funding of investigation work.

Case Management System (CMS) update

SMT noted that the CMS project work is completed and the most recent update was to address some of the user feedback. Staff pressures on the IT side were also acknowledged.

EU Exit / Transition period

SMT discussed the roles and responsibilities and the possible resource implications which are emerging.

8. Business Planning

2020-21 Operating Plan revision was discussed. This revision was to take account of Covid activities and the impact on our “normal” business.

9. Performance Monitoring 

There was a discussion around the key statistics. It was noted that reported incidents are down but this is most likely due to sectors being closed down in the initial Covid period. Complaint numbers in this period are up more than 200% against the same period last year.

10. Board Business

SMT agreed that the Operating plan would be shared with board then to the Minister for sign off.

11. Any other business 

SMT discussed the Inspection criteria which were introduced during lockdown had not been reviewed for some time and should be reconsidered by SMT to take account of the changing position.

12. Date of the next meeting

The next meeting is be confirmed subject to summer leave.