Health and safety can boost your branch

H&S can fall down the agenda, but International Workers’ Memorial Day is the the perfect chance to reinvigorate your work – and possibly your branch with it

In difficult times, it can be all too easy to let health and safety slide down the agenda, but making sure you address issues at branch level can reap rewards.

With increased workloads and periods without a branch safety officer, UNISON Pembrokeshire County branch had been struggling to maintain momentum on health and safety.

Both branch chair Janet Wyer and vice chair Liz Watkins knew that they had to turn this around. So they used the UNISON Safety in Numbers Guide to plan their first branch health and safety meeting for several years.

And it was a huge success. As a direct result, they recruited 16 more health and safety reps, a new branch health and safety officer; safety reps planned to carry out inspections and they organised local health and safety training.

So why not use health and safety to organise and recruit around at your branch?

With this year’s focus for International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) being Strong Laws, Strong Enforcement and Strong Unions, the timing couldn’t be better!

The day itself is on 28 April, so order your UNISON IWMD posters and leaflets now.

The poster and leaflet challenge the government’s attack on our ability to organise at work and keep workplaces safe. The Trade Union Bill aims to undermine unions, but as the focus for this year’s IWMD makes clear, it is strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions that keep workers, workplaces and the public safe.

Workplaces with union safety reps are twice as safe as those without.

When health and safety is not taken seriously, the consequences can be catastrophic, for workers, their families, and those who rely on the services our members provide. Because if our members are at risk at work, it is also likely that others relying on that workplace (whether a school, hospital, or nursing home) are also at risk.

International Workers’ Memorial day is marked around the world under the slogan ‘Remember the dead, fight for the living’. It commemorates those who have died from their work, but is also a focus for our campaign and demand for safe and healthy work to protect the living.

How will you mark the day?

Find out what is happening locally in your region: speak to your UNISON region, local TUC or Hazards Campaign group, and join or support any event.

If there isn’t one, organise a workplace event – perhaps jointly with your employer. Use the day to reinvigorate the campaign for better health and safety or to discuss a workplace health and safety concern with members, non-members and the employer.

Many UNISON branches have successfully organised and recruited around local health and safety concerns.

Wear the purple forget-me-knot IWMD ribbon on the day and at any events or activities that you take part in. You can also order the UNISON IWMD flags to use.

Let us know what you have planned

Will you be joining or organising an event or activity?

Is there someone locally that should be remembered? Is there a workplace health and safety issue that needs to be dealt with?

Whatever you plan, we would like to know and post it on the UNISON website to let other members know about it. Email a few words to:

For further IWMD information, links and resources on IWMD, visit UNISON IWMD event page.

Order your copies of the UNISON IWMD poster (stock no 2997), leaflet (stock no 2996) or other health and safety materials – including the Safety in Numbers Guide (stock no 2994) – via our online catalogue.

You can also download a PDF copy of the IWMD poster, the IWMD leaflet and the Safety in Numbers Guide for printing locally.

For details on how to order the UNISON IWMD flags (A4 sized, in packs of 25, priced at £27.50, incl. p&p) email The deadline for orders is 24 March.

You can order the purple forget-me-knot ribbons direct from the Hazards Campaign. 

Follow our ongoing campaign for International Workers’ Memorial Day on the UNISON website, on our Facebook page () and via our health and safety Twitter feed. You can tweet using #IWMD16.