Our sister organisation, Greater Manchester Hazards Centre has produced a briefing for UK Hazards on managing Covid-19 in the workpace.
This is a must read for any trade union representative and for workers in non unionised workplaces with concerns about how their employer is managing the risk (or maybe not) of infection from Covid 19 to workers and members of the public.
The likely spread of this virus does not allow employers to abdicate their duty of care to employees, contractors and members of the public. Far from it the briefing provides information on risk control as well as a timely reminder of the important role trade unions health and safety reps have in workplace crisis such as Covid-19, ensuring employers take adequate precautions to prevent the infection spreading within the workforce and also to others in the work environment, such as care home residents and contractors etc. with whom they do business.
Key to managing Covid 19 has to be effective consultation with staff. In workplaces where trade unions are organised this should include involving trade union representatives in any committees or groups set up to develop adequate workplace controls, inclusing implementation of business continuity measures to protect workers and, of course, the employing organisations interests.
In workplaces with no trade union organisation, or worse where there is aggressively anti trade union management there is less likelihood of effective workplace consutation and everyone workers, management and members of the public may be at greater risk of infection as a result.
Scottish Hazards have posted elsewhere about intimidating communications to care home workers in Nottingham, including consequences they may face if they do do not follow unreasonable, potentially illegal demands placed on them by their employer. Closer to home reports have come in of a knitwear manufacturer in Ayrshire apparently refusing to discuss Covid-19 with workers, we have already made a complaint to the HSE about a number of health and safety issues in this workplace and this will be added to the list.
On the positive side we should hold up examples like Homebargains as the way to look after workers during this uncertain time, they have agreed to pay workers who self isolate two weeks wages. Colleagues who do not require to do so between now and the end of December this year will get an additional two weeks pay.
Scottish Hazards believes effective consultation and adequate risk control will help contain the spread of this virus, those found intimidating workers in any way or failing to meet their legal obligations to workers have to be held accountable, but we question if the HSE or Local Authorities have the resources to do so.
Hopefully employers who look after their staff come out of this public health crisis at the other end in a better place than those who place their workers and others at risk.
If you have any positive or negative workplace experiences on how the threat of Covid 19 is being managed in your workplace please get in touch, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .