Unite, one of Britain’s leading trade unions, has called on all NHS organisations to urgently establish a risk register for reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) that may have been used in buildings across the NHS estate.
A similar risk register already exists for asbestos, and ensures that employers are monitored by their Health and Safety committees under the auspices of Unite health and safety representatives. Unite is asking for a RAAC risk-register to be established at every NHS site within the next 30 days. Units said: “The dangers posed by RAAC, which was commonly used as a building material between the 1950s and 1980s, are significant, and there have already been reports of hospitals refusing to accommodate patients on upper floors of buildings to avoid potential collapse.
“If RAAC is discovered, Unite would insist that the employer has a plan in place to deal with it, either by replacing the building, or conducting the necessary repairs. The risk register would allow monitoring of what is happening and an approved plan to be developed. Unite General Secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “The RAAC crisis is one that the government should have seen coming. A risk register would hold employers’ feet to the fire, and ensure that respected health and safety representatives oversee processes and ensure safety of those on NHS estates.”
George Puckett, Chair of Estates & Maintenance, Organising Professional Committee, added: “This situation has demonstrated that the lack of capital investment in the NHS estate over many years has seen these public assets crumble and deteriorate. Our members in Estates and Maintenance departments across the country are papering over the cracks to keep the public and patients safe to enable our NHS to function”.