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Research into Covid-19 workplace safety outcomes in the food and drinks sector

Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
About the research

This report responds to the TUC’s calls for a strengthened health and safety agenda, improved safety guidance and tougher regulatory activity in the light of Covid-19.

Alongside the reps survey, this report commissioned from the University of Greenwich, which shows an absence of health and safety compliance in UK workplaces.  

The research found 1 in 4 managers working in the food and drinks industry – a sector that’s had several Covid outbreaks – were unaware of a Covid risk assessment in their workplace.  

The report: 

  • shows those in workplaces with union health and safety reps were significantly more likely to have sufficient PPE (73% versus 53% of those with no health and safety representative).
  • identifies the role that Health and Safety (H&S) representatives have played during Covid-19, lessons learned and best practice for continuing and future waves.
  • there is a particular focus on food manufacturing, distribution and food retail (referred to throughout the report as the food sector). The report examines organisational and sectoral mechanisms and processes for worker representation and for effective social dialogue and joint regulation on health and safety.
  • the role of H&S representatives in risk assessment and the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but also in the (re)organisation of work and workplace ergonomics.
  • explores the role of unions in the protection of mental health, in ensuring that health and safety measures cover all groups of workers, and in maintaining the confidence of workers in their organisation’s capacity to keep them safe.
  • recognises the specific issues for the protection of key workers, the disproportionate outcomes for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) workers, but also for those on contractual arrangements with no direct relationship with employers.

Download the full report (pdf)

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