UNISON calls on Environment Agency to strengthen its health and safety measures

Unions seek urgent review of risk assessments to tackle new COVID-19 variant

During the pandemic, UNISON has engaged positively with the Environment Agency on a range of health and safety issues.

However, the increased transmission rates of the new COVID-19 variant has led to calls from UNISON and other unions, including Prospect, GMB and Unite, for the agency to review its risk assessments.

While many Environment Agency employees are working from home at the present time, some essential workers are still attending depots and other workplaces.

The unions have issued a health and safety union improvement notice calling for the Environment Agency to review measures, in particular for the introduction of compulsory face coverings in communal areas and consideration of flexible start and finish times to reduce social contact with colleagues.

UNISON head of health and safety Robert Baughan said: “This case has demonstrated the importance, in the light of the new variant, of all employers reviewing their risk assessments, and ensuring that all measures, such as wearing of face coverings in communal areas, are put in place.

“By going into work, many of our members are already risking their health. The least they can expect from employers is the assurance that everything that is reasonable has been put in place to keep them safe.”

UNISON has requested a response from the Environment Agency by 26 January.