16 November 2012 #Employment
The top safety concerns cited this year by union safety reps in the TUC's tenth biennial survey this year were stress, bullying and harassment, problems relating to being overworked and violence and intimidation.
The TUC believes that these concerns are down to rising fears of insecurity and unease felt in the UK workforce due to spending cuts.
Safety reps in the TUC survey also raised concerns about a decline in the number of safety inspections. 45 per cent of the 1,875 safety reps who responded to the TUC survey earlier this year said that their workplace had never had a visit from a safety inspector. Ten per cent hadn't seen a safety inspector in their workplace for more than three years, and another 16 per cent said their workplace hadn't been inspected for between one and three years. Just 28 per cent of union safety reps reported a visit from a safety inspector in the past year.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
“Fears about how austerity is affecting peoples' jobs and their families is having a real impact on the health and well-being of UK workers.”
“As jobs are cut, so the workload of those left behind increases. As the workload rise so do the stress levels of over-worked employees, which lead to a greater risk of bullying and harassment as stressed-out supervisors take out their frustrations on staff.”
“Government spending cuts are also having a big effect on the likelihood of workplaces receiving visits from HSE or council safety inspectors. A growing number of employers now seem content to let safety standards slip, so confident are they that an inspector is unlikely to call and hold their workplace safety policies to account.”
“Meanwhile the message coming from government is that much of health and safety regulation is needless red tape. But last year 173 workers died at work and thousands more were made ill by their jobs because their employers didn't place a high enough premium on their safety. Unions campaigning to improve workplace safety are clearly going to have their work cut out in the coming year.”