Coronavirus is, above all, a health and safety issue. From making the argument for PPE for key workers, to ensuring that members can work safely from home, the role of the health and safety rep has never been more important.
We’ve gathered together some online training and learning resources for UNISON health and safety reps, or for members who are interested in learning more.
As UNISON’s guidance for health and safety reps states, coronavirus (COVID-19) represents a potential new hazard in the workplace. It is therefore important that UNISON’s safety reps use their powers responsibly to carry out inspections where required, to make sure that everything possible is being done to reduce the risk of spreading the infection, and ensure those on the frontline of fighting are provided and trained in the use of the appropriate gloves, masks, aprons and eye protection. Often, the most dangerous time for a health or care worker is when removing their equipment, and that is why it is important they are trained in how to do so.
We have put together a PowerPoint presentation exploring the implications of coronavirus for risk assessments. You can use it to walk yourself through the issues, or perhaps present it to other branch reps over video conference.
The TUC’s webinars on issues around coronavirus have proved very popular, addressing questions concerning both those members who are still carrying out their normal duties and those who have been asked to change the way they work. If you weren’t able to watch them live, you can still catch up on YouTube. Of particular interest to health and safety reps will be:
If you were hoping to attend a UNISON health and safety reps’ induction training course that has now been cancelled, you can get ahead of the subject with the TUC’s online health and safety reps’ course.
While you won’t get the same chance to share experience, or networking opportunities, that you would on a face-to-face course, the online course allows you to learn a lot of the subject matter.
If you’re looking for a quick refresher on a particular health and safety issue, the TUC’s eNotes can take you through the basics in twenty minutes or so. The modules on Health and Safety and Organising, Work Related Upper Limb Disorders, and Fit For Work may be of particular interest at this time.
There are less obvious – but equally important – aspects to health and safety that have come into particular focus at this time. One of these is the issue of domestic abuse. As explained in UNISON’s guidance, domestic abuse is a trade union issue, and a health and safety issue. With many homes having suddenly become workplaces, and against a background of heightened tension, members may be at increased risk of experiencing domestic abuse.
The TUC has produced an e-learning module outlining the issues and explaining what you can do to help.
If you’re interested in learning more about the science of Covid-19, including how it spreads and what’s needed to address the issue going forward, FutureLearn’s free course on COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus is still ongoing, and there’s time to catch up.
Finally, the TUC’s extremely detailed briefing on Covid-19 has some useful information for health and safety reps, covering topics such as sick pay, hygiene, and personal protective equipment (PPE).