Everyone should be able to go to work without having their health damaged or made worse. Yet every year, around two and a half million people are made ill because of work.
This is a huge number. Around half of these people are in pain because of injuries such as back pain, neck pain and RSI. A further half a million people have to take time off work because of stress. Yet it is not work that makes people ill. Bad working practices and poor safety precautions are the cause.
Almost all work-related illness is avoidable, most of it through forward planning and good safety practices.
UNISON takes health and safety very seriously which is why we aim to have at least one UNISON safety representative to cover every workplace where we have members. Sometimes safety reps will also be stewards.
Tackling health and safety is often a very good way of organising among members and potential members. Dangerous or unhealthy practices in the workplace rightly cause strong feelings which can be used positively to bring about change and improvements.
In particular it is important that we involve young members in organising around health and safety issues as they are often less likely to be aware of such problems.
The key to good health and safety is having safety representatives, safety committees and good workplace organisation.
Workplaces with trade union recognition have 50 per cent fewer accidents than those without.
All UNISON members are entitled to have a safety committee within their place of employment.
The branch has a Health and Safety Officer who acts as a link between safety reps and the rest of the branch, and co-ordinates the activities of branch safety reps.
Violence at Work
Violence at work is a major occupational hazard for many UNISON members. Physical attacks are the most serious form of violence, but verbal abuse and threats are much more common and can have long-term health effects. UNISON has published guidelines for reps dealing with violence "It's not part of the job".
Guide to Lone Working
Branch response to figures on violent and abusive attacks on housing staff.
Bullying at Work
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