Branch Health & Safety

Health and safety

Austerity and further spending cuts threaten the jobs and pay of our members, and the services for and well-being of our communities and the public.

In a recent survey of UNISON safety reps; stress, bullying and harassment, and violence all figured very high in their top five hazards of concern.With the theme for European Health and Safety Week (19 – 25 October) focusing on stress and other risks such as bullying and violence in the workplace, the TUC National Inspection Day (which falls on Wednesday 21 October) is an ideal time to discuss these issues with members.

Safety rep workplace health and safety inspections don’t just have to focus on the tangible hard hazards such as slip and trip risks, fire risks, and work stations.  They can also focus on intangible hazards that don’t have a physical presence.

So this European Health and Safety Week and National Inspection Day, UNISON is encouraging branches and their safety reps to ask members about their experience of stress, bullying and harassment, and violence and threats at work.

Carry out an inspection this national inspection day

The TUC designated National Inspection Day aims to encourage safety reps to conduct a workplace health and safety inspection. Remember, workplaces with active safety reps are twice as safe as those without.

Carrying out an inspection will enable safety reps to:

  • raise awareness of the issues;
  • identify issues that need to be raised with the employer;
  • raise the profile of their role;
  • meet members, hear their concerns, and ask if they would like to get more involved, maybe by becoming a safety rep; and
  • meet non-members, as issues they raise may present opportunities for success or recruitment.


However, since these issues can be sensitive, members may not wish to talk about them in public, so remind them that they can always approach their safety rep in private for a confidential chat.

UNISON’s safety rep guide on workplace safety inspections will be of assistance, as will UNISON’s guides on bullying and harassment, stress, and violence. The guides not only explain the issues in greater detail; but also include useful tools such as safety rep checklists, draft surveys, and draft policies and procedures.