Be on the safe side

Posted in Branch news

Health and Safety Seminar Postponed

The National Health and Safety Committee has taken the difficult decision to postpone the health and safety seminar that it scheduled for 8th March.

The decision is in response to the on-going COVID-19 situation and the impact this is having on public services; public health measures across the UK; the crucial role our members and activists are playing in tackling the crisis and to protect our activist’s health, safety, and wellbeing. 

The event is rescheduled to take place on May 24th 2022.  Further information will follow for those already booked in on the OCS. For those who have already booked accommodation we advise you to contact the hotel and amend your booking.

New Home/Hybrid Working Guidance for Members

As homeworking continues for many members across the UK and as some move to more permanent hybrid models of working, UNISON has developed a new members’ guide on homeworking.  The short guide picks up on health and safety, equality, and other employment rights for home workers.

UNISON Home/hybrid working guidance for members

UNISON Bargaining guidance on home/hybrid working

Covid: Employers Must Not Let Down Their Guard

While it appears that the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus has now peaked, infection rates remain very high and following a loosening or removal of covid protective measures across the UK, UNISON has called on the Westminster Government not to abandon safety measures such as masks wearing and for employers across the UK not to let down their guard and to keep workers safe. 

For those returning to the physical workspace, employers must review covid risk assessments and include checks in other areas such as water management systems to prevent legionnaires disease in the workplace.

Employers in workplaces that have remained open during the pandemic must also review risk assessments in line with revised national guidance and ensure that they are taking all reasonably practicable measures to protect workers, including those who are clinically or clinically extremely vulnerable. UNISON has a range of guidance and tools that can be used to support health and safety reps to check on employers risk assessments, including our health and safety review tool on the Branch Services Portal. 

UNISON News Story on Covid

UNISON Health and Safety Review Tool

UNISON Coronavirus: Your Rights at Work

UNISON Risk Assessment Guidance

UNISON Ventilation Checklist

International Workers Memorial Day 

International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) held on 28 April every year is our day to remember the dead and fight for the living.  Official Health and Safety Executive figures for last year showed that 142 workers were killed at work and nearly 2, 500 deaths from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at work.

However, campaigners and Trade Unions agree that the figures are a gross underestimation, with Hazards suggesting the figure is more like 50, 000 deaths a year when you take in road traffic accidents and deaths related to occupational illnesses. Covid deaths due to occupational exposure are just one example of underreporting highlighted by a TUC report from last April.

At IWMD 2021 our General Secretary marked the loss of workers to covid-19 at the Covid Memorial Wall and branches and regions ran their own events.

We don’t yet know the theme for 2022 and will share further information in February’s news but branches, may want to start planning activity now.   If you have any plans please share them with the health and safety unit

International Workers Memorial Day

Organising around health and safety: Dates for the Diary

There’s opportunities to organise around health and safety in February.  The following dates and links to UNISON and other resources can be used to support workplace and branch activity on health and safety.

4th February World Cancer Prevention Day
Exposure to hazardous substances including asbestos, silica, chromium, and hardwood dust, alongside sunlight (solar radiation) from working outdoors, present a risk of cancer to workers.  Even night shift work has been linked to cancer.  While Governments focus on lifestyle or genetic factors as the cause of cancer, the union movement continues to campaign for better recognition and action against work related causes.  The resources below can help you look for any issues in your workplace.   

28th February Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day
RSI is a significant and growing hazard for those who work at home on display screen equipment for some or part of their time.  Other workers such as cleaners who have to do repetitive tasks, are also at risk.  RSI, referred to as upper limb disorders by the HSE now account for more cases of work related musculoskeletal disorders than back problems.  UNISON guidance on Aches, Pains and Strains, can be used to highlight the issues.

TUC Guidance on Occupational Cancer

HAZARDS Cancer Prevention Kit

UNISON Health and Safety Reps Guidance on Aches, Pains and Strains

UNISON Webpage on Upper Limb Disorders and RSI

HSE Information on Upper Limb Disorders