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Commenting on today’s (Monday) easing of restrictions, Nigel Costley, TUC regional secretary for the South West said: 

“As we reopen the economy, we must not drop our guard on workplace safety.

“If workplaces aren’t covid-secure, coronavirus cases could spiral out of control again. Let’s not forget that a significant number of working people have yet to receive their first vaccination.

“Vaccinations are also no substitute for comprehensive health and safety measures to make workplaces safe.

“Ministers must tell the Health and Safety Executive to crack down on bad bosses who play fast and loose with workers’ safety.

“It’s a national scandal that not a single employer has been prosecuted and fined for putting workers and the public at risk.

“And the government needs to wake up to the fact that a lack of decent sick pay undermines a safe return to workplaces. Ministers must raise statutory sick pay to the level of the Real Living Wage, and make sure that every single worker can get it.” 

Editors note
  • The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living. 
  • Last month, the TUC published it’s 13th biennial Health and Safety report: The Union Health and Safety Reps Survey 2020/21 questioned 2,138 trade union health and safety representatives about concerns in their workplaces. The full results and report are here:
  • It found that, in many cases, employers are failing to follow Covid-secure rules - which is putting workers at risk of infection and avoidable illness.
    • Risk assessments: More than a quarter of safety representatives said they were not aware of a formal risk assessment being carried out in their workplace in the last two years, covering the period of the pandemic. One in ten (9%) said their employer had not carried out a risk assessment, while 17% said they did not know whether a risk assessment had taken place. Of those who said their employers had carried out a risk assessment, more than a fifth (23%) said they felt the risk assessments were inadequate.
    • Workplace outbreaks: More than three-quarters of safety representatives (83%) said employees had tested positive for Covid-19 in their workplace, while more than half (57%) said their workplaces had seen a “significant” number of cases.
    • Enforcement by the Health and Safety Executive: Less than one quarter (24%) of respondents said their workplace had been contacted by a Health and Safety Executive inspector, or other relevant safety inspectorate in the last 12 months. More than a fifth (22%) said their workplace had never been visited by an HSE inspector, as far as they were aware.
    • Social distancing: A quarter (25%) of representatives said their employer did not always implement physical distancing between colleagues through social distancing or physical barriers. Just over a fifth (22%) said their employer did not always implement appropriate physical distancing between employees and customers, clients or patients.
    • Personal protective equipment: More than a third (35%) said adequate PPE was not always provided.
    • Mental health concerns and stress: Almost two-thirds of safety representatives (65%) said they are dealing with an increased number of mental health concerns since the pandemic began. Three-quarters (76%) cited stress as a workplace hazard.
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