Your Health and Safety Officer is Stuart Egan


Newsletter for UNISON branches on recruiting Safety Reps and organising around COVID-19 (to print a copy, view in browser by clicking here.)

List of contents

What is the role of Safety Reps?
How can Safety Reps help make workplaces COVID-Safe?
What is a risk assessment?

The risks for black and other vulnerable workers?
How can I become a Safety Rep?
Where can our reps get training?

The role of UNISON Safety Reps has never been more important than it is today. The pandemic has highlighted the failures of employers and the government. These include
  • The failure to provide personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Failings in the management of residential care homes;
  • The ill thought out rush both to prematurely increase pupil numbers in schools in England and Wales, and to re-open some workplaces in England
These have all put the crucial importance of Safety Reps in even greater focus. In some cases, they are saving lives.

UNISON's campaigning and the information and resources it has produced during this COVID-19 pandemic (see below) has enabled it to increase its membership at a faster rate, than at any time in its 27 year history. However this success has meant it is more important than ever for UNISON to recruit additional Safety Reps. Every workplace where we don't have a Safety Rep is putting the safety of our members at risk. It is Safety Reps that keep our members safe by holding employers to account, and ensuring the voice of members is heard.

This newsletter explains what Safety Reps do and the material and training UNISON has produced to support them.
Latest news and advice on COVID-19 
How to work safely: Guidance for UNISON members as more workplaces open and more staff return to their workplaces
What is the role of Safety Reps?
Safety Reps have certain legal rights which can really help them make a difference for their members. Safety Reps have unique powers in the battle to keep our members safe. These includes the right to represent members on anything affecting their safety, carry out workplace inspections, and to time off to perform their role. 
To find out more about the role of Safety Reps read our UNISON Guide
How can Safety Reps help make workplaces COVID-Safe?
It is the employer's duty to keep their workers safe, and safety reps have a vital role in holding employers to account. Employers have a legal duty to consult with safety reps on anything affecting their members' safety so reps should be asking employers to see their risk assessment, if they haven't seen them already. Safety Reps also have the right to conduct their own workplace inspections, and in some cases employers and UNISON Safety Reps have worked in partnership to carry out joint inspections and risk assessments.

UNISON has produced a detailed guide for Safety Reps in workplace inspections. It has also produced a wealth of material for members & activists on COVID-19 risk assessments and making your workplace COVID-Safe.
Health and Safety Inspections at Work. A guide for UNISON safety reps
Bargaining guides including information on making workplaces COVID-Safe 
Covid-19 Pandemic: Return to Work Legal Advice for Branches.

What is a risk assessment?
The key to employers keeping our members safe is a process called risk assessment, which establishes the measures necessary for staff protection..

More information on the basic principles of risk assessment go to UNISON's Health & Safety Knowledge Base web pages. UNISON has also produced a more detailed guide specifically aimed at Safety Reps
Health and safety knowledge: Risk assessment
Risk assessment. A guide for UNISON safety reps
The risks for Black and other vulnerable workers?
Black men are nearly 3.9 times, and Black women 3.3 times, more likely to die from COVID-19 than their White colleagues. There are also increased risks for older workers and those with underlying health conditions. UNISON has developed guidance to ensure that your employers include these considerations in their risk assessments.
Risk assessments for Black, disabled and other vulnerable workers COVID-19: Guidance for UNISON branches

How can I become Safety Rep?
It is the job of UNISON, not your employer, to decide who should represent their members, so if you want to be a Safety Rep please contact your branch.  If you want to find out more about the role and see whether it is for you, you may wish to attend one of a number of online webinars.
The first webinar is to take place on 7 July. Save the date and watch this space for more details. 
Where can our reps get training?
Below is a list of online training courses provided by UNISON Learning & Organising Services (LAOS) to help you keep your members safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Title Contents include
Basic Health and Safety Principles and the Corona Virus) -Key legal functions of H&S rep
-Understanding employer’s legal obligations.
-5 stages of risk assessment
-Eliminate and mitigate risk of harm

Covid-19 What Employers Must Do (General) -Risk Assessment
-Evaluating risk and implementing measures
-Social distancing
-Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Covid-19 Working in Social Care. What your Employer Must Do -All from above previous resource but also focussing on:
-PPE Issues
At Work Risk Assessment

(Produced by UNISON H&S Unit)
-Principles of Risk Assessment
-Areas to risk assess
-Hierarchy of control
-Risk: Evaluating, Eliminating and controlling
 Returning to Work Safely -Using key H&S reps rights to hold employer to account
-Employer legal duties inc
luding Risk Assessment
Becoming a UNISON H&S rep – an Introduction -Confronting doubts, building confidence
-What IS the role?
-Legal rights
-Some of your questions answered

To find out more how to access Safety Rep  courses and to find out more about training available from LAOS website go its' website

Our members have worked so hard to battle the virus, protect our communities and maintain the lockdown. Now they need the government to work just as hard to ensure that any relaxation of the lockdown – whenever it comes in different parts of the UK – is safe for all workers. That is UNISON’s bottom line.

 Posted in 

Porters, care workers, security staff and parking wardens are at greater risk of physical and verbal attack, injury or illness, because they work alone for long periods, says UNISON today (Tuesday) as it launches the first union gig economy safety guide. The union warns that staff cuts, the growth of zero-hours contracts and an increase in the […]


From: Sara Gorton, UNISON National Secretary - Health

Health Service Group Conference 68 April 2020, Brighton
Key dates and deadlines

Who needs to know?

 All Health BranchesSummary:

Key dates and dadlines for the 2020 UNISON Health Service Group Conference.

In full:

In preparation for the 2020 Health Service Group Conference, branches are asked to note the following dates and deadlines:

BRIEFING HC-056-1919 July 2019




Submission of motions

29 November 2019


Preliminary Agenda published


3 January 2020

Delegate Registration

16 January 2020


Submission of amendments

7 February 2020

Final Agenda published

9 March 2020

Submission of emergency motions

27 March 2020

As usual, the conference bulletin with registration forms will be published on theUNISON website in September, and branches will be notified as soon as it’s available.

Increasing participation:

The Health Service Group Executive is keen to increase branch and member participation in the conference. Branches are encouraged to submit motions and to support delegates to participate in the debates. Training courses on ‘Writing motions’and on ‘Speaking with confidence’ can be accessed via your Regional Education Officer.

Author: Email:
June Chandler


Contact UNISON on 0800 0 857 857 or visit


From: Sara Gorton, UNISON National Secretary - Health

BRIEFING HC-059-1919 July 2019

NHS Social Partnership Forum shows support for the Dying to Work campaign

Who needs to know?

 All Health BranchesSummary:

The TUC Dying to Work campaign calls on employers to provide additional employment protection for people who are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

In full:

The NHS Social Partnership Forum released a joint statement at its wider group meeting on 15 July in support of the TUC’s Dying to Work campaign. work-campaign/

The Dying to Work campaign has produced a voluntary charter for individual employers to sign. It commits them to support, protect and guide staff following a terminal diagnosis.

The SPF is supportive of the TUC’s Dying to Work campaign encourages localpartnership forums to explore supporting this campaign.


Contact UNISON on 0800 0 857 857 or visit


Branches who have not yet discussed signing the charter with their employer may want to visit the Dying to Work website and follow the 5 simple steps.

For other great examples of partnership working visit the SPF website

Author: Email:
Alan Lofthouse

UNISON is working with TB Alert to let members know that latent TB can be diagnosed and treated before it wakes up

Posted in

UNISON health and safety seminar hears 66% of lone workers have faced violence and aggression

HEALTH & SAFETY: Coming this month – European Health and Safety week, 22 to 27 October 
UNISON takes your health and safety seriously and we think European Health and Safety Week is a great opportunity to highlight the fantastic work our safety reps do every day.

So we are asking our reps and branches to use European health and safety week to shine a spotlight on this vital work to keep staff and the public safe, promote better health and safety and highlight the role of the union and our safety reps in achieving this.
Find out more on our dedicated campaign page
UNISON's guide on hazardous substances at work
UNISON guide to carrying out risk assessments

Find out how we got to where we are with health and safety regulation

Working in mental health: the problems in five charts

We look at the data

It’s world mental health day this Tuesday (10 October) so to mark the occasion we’re looking at some data that shows what’s happening to mental health patients, through the eyes of mental health workers (we are a union, after all).

In September, UNISON sent out a survey to people who work in mental health, and over a thousand people filled it in.

One of the most telling things mental health staff said was that they felt there was an unsafe ratio of staff to service users.

They also said that service users were increasingly reaching crisis point before they could access services; almost 7 in ten respondents thought that was the case.

The survey found that the under-funding of mental health services is having a big impact on how well mental health staff feel they are able to do their jobs.

Many mental health staff have had to do unpaid overtime, of the ones that have, 6 out of 10 people said an increased workload is one of the causes, and 5 out of 10 said shortage of staff was a reason.

When asked directly if the funding crisis impacted on the care they were able to provide, six out of 10 said yes.

Our research found that patients are not the only ones being affected by the shortage of funds for mental health, it is also having an impact on the staff.

Four out of 10 mental health staff have been victims of violence or aggression in the last year.

The BBC’s 5 live also looked into violence against mental health staff, and found that the number of reported violent incidences has gone up by more than a quarter since 2012/13.

That’s why UNISON is campaigning for fair funding for mental health. Staff must be able to deliver quality services to people who need it, and carry out their jobs in an environment that looks after their own mental and physical health too.

Find out about our mental health campaign, Mental Health Matters

Read the full report

Health and safety

UNISON believes health and safety in the workplace is an issue for everyone. Every year, thousands of people suffer accidents and ill-health at work – most of which could be avoided.


Each year on or near 28 April 28, UNISON joins people around the world to celebrate International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Union survey of 10,000 members shows that stress is harming staff and services – but employers rarely talk about it


Thanks to the work of UNISON’s health and safety reps, public sector employees are less likely to suffer injury in the workplace. Tens of thousands of UK workers die every year because of their work and many more are injured. But thanks to the efforts of more than 6,000 safety reps and branch officers, UNISON members are safer.

Behavioural safety A new workplace hazard to risk assess

A guide for UNISON safety reps

Behavioural Safety.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [167.7 KB]