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January 2019

Derek Maylor, Chairperson:

The CWU is to meet a Conservative MP, Ms Vicky Ford, this month prior to a Ten
Minute Rule Bill which is to be presented to The Commons and the CWU are seeking cross party support for our policy of enshrining the EU Letterbox Height standard into UK Building Regulations.

It seems simple enough but a straightforward standard added to building regulations has been rejected previously, what is being asked for is for the introduction of a mandatory standard for Letter Box heights which would eliminate low-level letterboxes. The introduction of the European Standard (EN13724) can be added to UK Building Regulations without any mention of Brexit.

Also in January is the annual CWU Disability Conference where a NW Branch has raised the issue of Mental Health. The training of CWU representatives to become mental health first aiders is a major step forward but we need to remove the stigma some people feel making them hide their feelings and exacerbate an issue. We need to break down this barrier so our reps and officers can give the support that we have trained them to give.

The Dancing with the Black Dog campaign says that it’s ok not to be ok and in turn break down the barriers that people often put up to hide how they are feeling and we will adopt a similar lighthouse approach. This will run concurrent with the IOSH launch of new mental health support and training in workplaces resources and the University of Nottingham’s Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace study which looks at the wider issues around evaluating the effectiveness of mental health policies and practices in the workplace.

It still astonishes that people, businesses, wilfully disregard asbestos legislation that is there to protect themselves and others around them. A few weeks ago a HSE prosecution in Birmingham saw a landlord and a building contractor fined after large quantities of asbestos fibres were released from the demolition of a conservatory at a rented property. Asbestos was removed in an uncontrolled manner without an asbestos survey being carried out and clearly work should not have started work without one. 

Consequently there were no precautions taken and asbestos was spread around the home and community. Fines seem insufficient and the 150 hours unpaid work more of a deterrent. However on a positive note, to address this in Canada, homeowners preparing to begin renovation projects are being advised by Work Safe who are educating the public on the risks of asbestos exposure in residential properties.

Asbestos-related diseases are the main cause of workplace deaths and people may not be aware that they might have asbestos in their homes which can kill if it is disturbed during renovations. The Coord may take this excellent campaign to the CWU conference this year to create policy and a parallel UK campaign. Asbestos-related lung diseases are preventable.

As always, and in conclusion; we aim to provide the best advice and representation for our members and to:

*Ensure a safe working environment
*Promote occupational health
*Help members raise safety concerns
*Advance industry best practice
*Provide representation at national meetings
*Raise issues with other safety or government bodies

Our greatest assets are our Union Safety Representatives and we fully support them in their work.

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