Health and Safety Expertise within Health Branches

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2016 Health Care Service Group Conference
18 November 2015

Conference regards the health, safety and welfare of workers as paramount across the NHS.

Conference believes the successful pursuit of health and safety legislation, regulations and practice in the workplace rests in large part on the efforts of unionised work places.

Conference recognises the attempts of government to roll back health and safety provision. Conference considers the role of UNISON Health and Safety Representative has never been more important in the face of government’s public service austerity measures across the public sector and private sector for the NHS.

Conference understands safety reps can feel isolated at times in the face of the avalanche of cuts .

Conference acknowledges local support for Health and Safety Representatives has never been more important in ensuring a continuing effective safety network across Health Branches

Conference calls on the Health Service Group Executive to:

1)Instigate research into the impact of austerity measures on UNISON Health and Safety Representatives. This research should include:

a)The identification of the workload on Unison Health Branches Safety Representatives;

b)The employers’ response rate in tackling Health & Safety Representatives’ concerns, highlighting continuous poor responses;

c)The barriers Health and Safety Representatives encounter whilst undertaking their duties in their NHS workplace;

d)The barriers placed on Health and Safety Representatives’ paid release to undertake trade union duties or training;

e) Identifying where safety reps are encountering restrictions and/or reductions in their involvement on safety matters by NHS employers (public and private);

f)The growth or decline in workplace safety concerns in the NHS, as a consequence of the austerity measures.

2) Carry out an appropriate review, investigating the needs of UNISON Health Branch Safety Representatives and the provision of local and regional support/resources.

3) Identify what other additional support could be offered to Health and Safety Representatives, branches and regions. This support could include but is not limited to:

a)further training (e/g. 2015 National Health & Safety Seminar held in Cardiff, East Midlands Region Branch Autumn H&S Officers training weekend, as well as promoting the annual Hazards Conference held at Keele University);

b)supported campaigning on health and safety matters (e/g. needlestick injuries);

c)local support mechanisms responsive to the personal and workplace needs of Health & Safety Representatives. (e.g. Regional Health & Safety contacts points and notification of the Regional Health & Safety committee meetings);

d)identification of suitable local resources to assist Health and Safety Representatives in their front line duties;

e)Asking that Health and Safety issues are a regular agenda item for HSGE and Regional Health Committees.