Hazards 2011 Keele University
Co-ord member and Central & West Lancs Branch Health & Safety Rep, John Southwell reports from health and safety campaigning group, Hazards, conference held in Keele University in Staffordshire:
I attended my first Hazards conference at the weekend which has been running 22 years. I was fortunate to be allocated workshops I had requested; they were risk assessment & safety reps & Inspecting an accident.
There were many other unions present including Unison, GMB and Prospect also other colleagues attended including, Roy Apps (CWU), Hilda Palmer (Greater Manchester Hazards & Hugh Robertson (TUC Senior Health and Safety Officer).
Conference was opened by Hilda Palmer (chair) John Bamford GMHC gave an update on the Hazards campaign. Linzi Herbertson (sat on the left) gave an update on Families against Corporate Killers (FACK)
In the pic , from the left Simon Hester Prospect HSE, Hugh Robertson Senior Policy Officer, Doug Russell (chair) USDAW & GMHC & Sanjiv Pandita Asia Monitor Resource Centre. Right hand picture is Sanjiv Pandita at the lectern.
All spoke well & were empowering etc. but the most empowering was Sanjiv who told of the struggles in Asia to get better H & S for workers there.
Cases of workers provided with chemical containers with no labels just different coloured tops & they are told just to mix the green & red ones for example! We were promised the slides from Sanjivs presentation & when I obtain these I will send them out & make them fully available
Tutored by John Murphy (Blackburn & District TUC). We were split into groups of five & were told that there would be a presentation on screen, then the workshop & then a discussion about our finding s & experiences. Some interesting issues came up such as the problems when storing cannabis, changing out a valve on an oil rig, microwaves in the workplace welfare rooms & traffic warden issues!
We had our key note meeting in the afternoon this was “who pays the price for H & S failures”.
Louse Taggart from FACK gave an emotional account of her brother’s death when he was electrocuted. She also told the harrowing story of a young man who worked for Biffa & whose body was found dismembered under tonnes of rubble. He had given concerns to his bosses about site safety & these were ignored. Even worse Biffa said that he may have been killed off-site & anyway he would be happy as they have now implemented all the safety issues he wanted!! The conclusion is of course dear reader that you pay the price for H & S failures not only in the emotional cost but in financial cost too
Saturday Evening Workshop
The final workshop of the day and we were placed in groups of five & issued with an accident investigation report & some photographs of a cutting bench & quite a gruesome one of a hand with part of a finger missing! The cutting bench had been made & the saw was not designed to be used upside down! This is a real accident that the tutor (who is a HSE inspector) has dealt with.
We had to ask for other information as we went along & we were told that we would not be provided with this unless we asked! We discovered that this information was the manual for the saw & the risk assessment information from the company, a new one for me was the maximum reach distance figures, an excellent tool in this case. We then went through the intermediate, intermediary & underlying causes.
We had the campaigning meetings, an excellent discussion on how to recruit safety reps & deal with managers who refuse them time off. Also when negotiating time off for reps these ten points are an excellent start.
Recognise that trade union safety reps play a valuable & constructive role in the workplace; they also make a positive contribution to the health, safety & welfare of employees when working with the employer.
Re state that safety reps have a range of statutory functions, and in order to undertake these functions during normal working hours they will need to be released form their normal job.
Also confirm that it is the employer’s duty to permit such time off from their normal job as shall be necessary to undertake their safety representative duties.
Agree that all safety reps will automatically have an initial stating time of three hours per week (NB this will depend on the size of the company, number of buildings to be inspected etc.) for safety rep functions.
Make a clear statement that safety reps will need to take additional time off beyond the basic allowance in order to fulfil all their statutory duties given by SRSCR reg 4(1), and that this time will not be obstructed. The rep will in turn make advance arrangement wherever possible.
Recognition that it is the employers duty to provide whatever facilities & assistance the safety rep reasonable need to carry out their duties, this is in line with SRSCR 4A(2) & to commit to their provision.
A statement that the employer is to make budgetary & resource provision in order to meet the duties imposed on them by the safety rep.
The employer must make adjustment to the workload, this will take into account that the rep needs to take time off; & if necessary provides for adequate arrangement for this work to be covered while they undertake their safety rep functions.
The minimum acceptable standard is that the employer must ensure e that time spent on safety rep activities is at least proportionate to the teaching, research, supervisory or departmental admin or other work the rep would normally undertake. This must be discussed with the rep concerned.
Ensure that line & other managers understand fully what functions safety reps have, and the importance of ensuring that statutory time is the priority for safety reps.
Thanks Hazards & to Keele Uni for providing excellent facilities over the weekend overall an excellent & informative weekend & I hope to be able to attend again in 2012!