‘Beyond the data’ report on COVID and Black communities highlights role of racism and importance of occupational risk reduction

The missing ‘Beyond the data’ part of Public Health England’s review of COVID-19 impact on Black communities has now been published

It draws on a range of experiences and views from engagement with Black community groups and discusses the impact of systemic racism. It contains recommendations for the Westminster government but will also be of interest to the devolved administrations in their work.

One of the recommendations covers the use of occupational risk assessment to reduce exposure to the virus.

Early findings from our UK-wide ‘Blueprint’ survey of UNISON members sent out last week show a large proportion of Black staff who have not had a discussion about risk assessment with their manager and/or do not feel their employer is doing enough to address their risk factors.

Branches have a key role in ensuring an urgent and constructive approach from employers, identifying barriers to staff participation and holding employers to account for the way staff are treated through the process.

Branches are reminded to use the UNISON advice and joint NHS unions advice about risk assessments to help you engage with your employer on this.

This collection of case studies on risk reduction initiatives may also be useful

Key areas for partnership work:

  • Data on how far risk assessment programme has progressed and what risk reduction actions have been taken
  • What barriers are emerging to Black staff taking up the risk assessment or risk reduction measures?
  • What feedback is being collected from staff on how supportive the process is?
  • How will the process be quality assured and evaluated for its effectiveness in reducing the number of Black staff contracting the virus?
  • How can risk assessment conversations bridge into opportunities for wider discussion about the impact of racism in the workplace to inform action to tackle it?

Branches are asked to feedback to regions and to health@unison.co.uk with examples of good practice approaches and resources or barriers and problems you may be experiencing.