CWU General Conference 2017

Health Safety and the Environment Report

Derek Maylor, Chair of the North West BT Unions Health and Safety Co-ord, report son events this week at the CWU Annual Conference 2017 being held in Bournemouth.

Here he gives a quick run down of the issues debated over the last two days and specifically within the Health & Safety Section of the Agenda:

The first proposition over Europe and the Branch motion, via the NW Safety Forum was added to composite motion.

The UK voted to leave the European Union there is concern that the current government will use this as a way of “watering down” or removing Health and Safety legislation that has been enacted from European Directives and possibly even further regulation.

Conference therefore instructed the NEC, with the support of the Health and Safety department, to campaign with the TUC, other trade unions and like minded bodies to protect and preserve any and all legislation on the statute books from indiscriminate removal in the name of “better for business” or other so called initiatives.

The hard work already undertaken by the CWU to tackle the targeting of young workers by performance management in BT is noted but there are still issues such as the impact on its young members by the barbaric use of this process and the poor quality of training received. Performance management and micro managing has had a long term and damaging impact on Young workers and therefore decided to compile a professional and independent psychological report on the effect performance management and the substandard training in BT has had on its young members.

I went to the rostrum to move a proposition which I had expected to be accepted as there was nothing in it that was not obvious. Electromagnetic radiation is harmful to people at certain levels and recently the Government imposed legal limits for occupational exposure, namely The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work (CEMFAW) 2016.

People with underlying health conditions may make them more susceptible to electromagnetic field exposure. Compliance with these limits can either be achieved through measurement or calculation, however they change with the frequency of the radiation and the evaluation, hence the legislation, is often complex.

The legislation states that electromagnetic radiation assessments, measurements and calculations should be planned and carried out by competent persons at regular intervals to enable accurately assessment of the risks from radiation exposure to electrical equipment and installations. They add that where there is a possibility of working near electromagnetic fields and have workers that fall in to vulnerable groups there must be specific Risk Assessments.

Pic: Derek on Prop 69 at conference 2017This includes employees who have active and passive implanted medical devices and pregnant employees. We therefore instructed the NEC to work with the Health & Safety Department to ensure that where we have members, who fall into the vulnerable group categories in any company where we have members, that full Risk Assessments are carried out by a competent person and that any risks are suitably managed.

The NEC are to carry out a survey into the effects of workplace stress, anxiety and depression on our membership as the last survey was 2001 and the workplace environment has changed significantly since that survey was commissioned. The findings of the survey will be used by the CWU to formulate CWU strategy going forward furthermore these findings will be released to the membership by conference 2018.

There were two propositions on the rapid development of technology and in particular the progress being made on “driverless vehicles” and whilst I thought the second proposition was far better constructed I did get up to support the first one which meant that the our proposition from the NW Safety Forum was dropped.

BT Group and Royal Mail Group have two of the largest non-governmental fleets in Europe and it would be reasonable to expect that both companies, and all others where we have members, will be looking at the possibilities such technology offers. The Department for Transport report “The Pathway to Driverless Cars” outlined the government approach to the testing and eventual introduction of them. Conference agreed to set a strategy that deals with the possible safety implications should this type of vehicle be considered for use by any of the employers where we have recognition.

There are advances made by the CWU in recent years in providing better information for its safety representatives in the field of health, safety and welfare; also in line with the guidance given by the SRSC regulations there are numerous online facilities that are useful and should be continued to be made available to assist safety representatives.

Over the years Branches have produced some very useful media resources locally, and these have been very successful. Unfortunately there are barriers that prevent online access and restrict representatives from having access to this information. Therefore we decided to investigate the feasibility of producing an electronic resource, either in removable media format, e.g. USB stick or downloadable from a single source; this to be along the lines of a Health & Safety representative’s resource package.

It should contain such items as relevant national agreements, legislation, and documents relevant to improving our member’s conditions. These may be tailored for relevant representatives in each of the businesses in which we have members. In addition, it may be possible to maximise benefits due to using economies of scale to subscribe to a number of professional bodies or publications centrally and make them accessible to Branches and Safety Representatives.

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