A Hazardous report
Unison Rep Stephen Booth reports about the Hazards , Heath & Safety Meeting he recently attended for his own development.
Overall I found the weekend very useful, although there did seem to be an atmosphere of how we seem to keep beating our heads against the same walls over and over and over again. Key takeaway from the event was we need to get the whole of the unions (from the elites to the members in the workplaces) pushing health and safety as both an activity and an organising agenda.
Stress seems to be the major issue in most workplaces, mostly driven by levels and types of work. Cross skilling/working seems to be on the rise with staff expected to not only pick up the work of other team members but also different types of work. One example cited was an electrician also expected to do plumbing and plastering.
UNISON national H&S team ran a fringe meeting the first evening where they promoted the “Safety Rep of the Year” award they have started as a biannual thing, and the TUC Asbestos Eradication programme that is campaigning for all asbestos to be removed from all schools and public buildings by 2025. They are keen on the idea of “Each One, Teach One”, experienced reps pass on their knowledge to less experienced reps and members who might consider becoming reps. Obviously time is an issue there, but it would help to reduce the reliance on a small number of experienced reps and negotiators getting swamped with work because no-one else has the skills (or at least confidence in their skills) to do it. They plugged a seminar they are running in Edinburgh on 29th March next year, booking information available September this year, I have a couple of leaflets.
They (UNISON National H&S team) also talked about how branches could raise awareness of H&S through UNISON branded related items that could be handed out to members to keep in their work area. They specifically mentioned UNSION branded thermometers. I think those would be very popular amongst my members as temperature is a constant issue. These would certainly have ‘desk appeal’ and might also encourage members to get involved and talk to their managers about H&S.
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