Health and safety in the workplace
A UNISON case study

Page 1: Introduction

Everyone has the right to be in a safe and healthy workplace. This is a basic human right as most people spend a large part of their life at work. Employees in the UK mainly enjoy safe and healthy work conditions - pressure from trade unions over the years has made this possible - but this is not always the case. Formed in 1993 from the merger of three public sector unions, UNISON is the UK's...
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Page 2: The role of unions in the workplace

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Unions represent the interests of their members, whether they are nurses, teachers, care assistants or cleaners. A trade union such as UNISON is set into a national structure with local branches, which have locally elected officials. Typical issues the union involves itself with are: Pay discussions. Average earnings are 8% higher in trade union workplaces. Bargaining for better holidays...
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Page 3: Health & safety legislation

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Employers have a responsibility to make workplaces as safe as possible. There are two main legal requirements: Section 7 (a) of the Act requires all employees to take reasonable care for their own Health and Safety at work and that of others who may be affected by what they do or fail to do. Under HASAWA, an employer must look at what risks exist in the workplace and record the risk assessment...
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Page 4: UNISON and safety representatives

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UNISON aims to have at least one safety spokesperson to cover every workplace where it has members.  While employers think mainly about preventing accidents, union safety representatives are also concerned about longer-term health and wellbeing. Union members elect UNISON safety representatives, and the appointment must be given to the employer in writing. Regulations state that a...
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Page 5: UNISON and important work issues

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There are a number of important issues that UNISON is involved in: a) Women's Health and Safety: research carried out by UNISON shows women face many problems, including: Back pain. At least 100,000 women a year suffer with back problems caused at work. Physically attacked. One in ten 24 to 34 year old workers have been abused by a member of the public while at work (a third higher than...
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Page 6: Conclusion

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Employers must ensure the Health and Safety of their employees and the wider public who come into contact with their business. Trade unions like UNISON are set up to look after the interests and welfare of their members, working in partnership with employers to ensure high standards of Health and Safety. UNISON is chiefly concerned with ensuring the long-term health and wellbeing of its...
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