Sunday, March 04, 2012

Health & Safety in the Voluntary and Community Sector

My next workshop was led by the Head of UNISON Health & Safety, Hope Daley. Hope had a tough job to remain positive and upbeat about safety in the face of Government attacks on workplace safety measures and cuts in funding for those bodies who are suppose to protect us.

While cuts in funding for our sector means that many employers are taking risks with their employees and our clients. Staff numbers are being cut to the bone. Support services are being down graded. For example "Waking night" staff are being replaced by so called "sleep overs" which means that staff in residential projects will face working a 8 hour late shift, then have a disruptive nights sleep (possibly being awoken several times during the night) and then do a 8 hour early shift. 

I made a brief contribution that health and safety is an organising issue. The "cuts" show that you can not trust the Government, the law or your employer to protect you at work. The only friend you have at work is your union. The best way to make you safer is to help build trade union density and organisation. Recruit a work colleague to the union and volunteer to be a safety rep.

Hope stressed the importance of using Worker Memorial Day (April 28th) and National Inspection Day (which takes place on the Wednesday of European Health and Safety week). She also used the opportunity to promote the new UNISON guide to "Disability and Health & Safety" which was published in December. I had to leave before the end to go to a Service Group Executive meeting.

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