Forget the idea of ‘Can’t do that, its ‘elf and safety innit…’ that’s often represented in newspapers or on television – UNISON believes that keeping people safe and well when at work is a vitally important issue.
Employers have legal duties to provide a safe working environment and working practices, but sadly, there are still too many deaths and injuries occurring in the workplace – official figures show that across the UK last year there were 229 people killed at work, while 2.1 million people suffered from an illness caused or made worse by the workplace or their duties.
UNISON campaigns locally and nationally to improve working conditions, and the role of the safety representative is very important to this continuing success. Research by the Health and Safety Executive has shown that workplaces where safety representatives work in partnership with employers have up to 50% fewer injuries and accidents.
In order to continue our branch’s successes at making the workplace a better and safer place to be, UNISON are currently running a campaign to remind members (or prospective members) of the benefits of a workplace safety rep. Called ‘Safety in Numbers’, there are currently opportunities to become an accredited rep, which can lead to a professional qualification.
Locally, UNISON works hard, in partnership with Norfolk County Council and the HSE, at making the workplace safer. Whether that workplace is an office or at the roadside, you’ll find that as a UNISON rep., you’re well trained and supported, and of course, as you’re working for a safer workplace, time spent training and undertaking your duties is paid as part of your working hours.
If you’re interested in finding out more, contact the Branch Office for a discussion, or speak to your local safety representative or steward. Alternatively, drop by the UNISON stall which will be in the South Foyer of County Hall during European Health and Safety Week (19th -25th October).
- Glenn Springett, Health and Safety Officer (first posted: 19 October 2009.)