The silencing of the workers’ voice on HSE board by the DWP appointing an employer to a workers seat is only one way of shutting us out. As part of the HSE ‘Strategy’ Help GB Work Well, a health and work strategy has been developed to focus on three priorities: preventing occupational stress and related mental health issues; musculo skeletal disorders; and occupational lung disease. This was ‘soft launched’ on 15th December by DWP Minister responsible Penny Mordaunt. And it will be followed by 5 roadshows next year between January and March – 1 each in: Scotland, Wales, The North, Midlands, and South with a national conference in May probably in London. More information and dates maybe before Christmas.
There will be a new dedicated health and work team within the HSE plans to ’harness the efforts of health & safety organisations, unions and employers to co-ordinate action around the three priority areas’. So far the new Health and Work Strategy appears to include us.
However, one of the first events will be a Stress Summit for ‘leaders in health and safety and HR’ on March 2017: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/hse-invites-leaders-in-health-safety-and-hr-to-the-stress-summit-2017/ Under the ‘Who should attend? Heading there is no mention of unions or safety reps just Senior Health and Safety Practitioners, Occupational Health Practitioners, HR Professionals, Senior Managers and Leaders, Absence Managers, Operations Managers, and even Sponsorship and Exhibition Opportunities. Looks very much like doing health and safety to us, rather than with us. This is reinforced by the pretty exclusive cost of £425 (£350 early bird price) for the Stress Summit, intended to ensure that no safety reps or workers can attend.
We know the problem is getting any action on stress in the workplace is employers intransigence. This can take many forms: blocking it, claiming work-stress doesn’t exist or if it does it’s nothing to do with them and nothing can be done about it; doing it wrongly, not including us, only doing individual risk assessment when people are stressed rather than preventative collective risk assessments as legally required; and the fact that the Stress Management Standards (SMS) http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/index.htm are not adequate to the modern workplace; and most of all , employers will not act when the HSE has made clear that it will not enforce the SMS, they will not prosecute, and they will take no action to back up safety reps in getting their employers to comply with the law. Additionally many employers are still suggesting falsely that well-being, mindfulness and resilience programmes are taking preventative action stress. Martin Temple, the new Chair of the HSE, vehemently disagreed with this in the Triennial Review of the HSE he undertook when at the Engineering Employers Association: http://www.hazards.org/stress/distressingfailure.htm
Any Stress Summit that does not include our experiences of the problems we as union safety reps and workers face cannot come up with meaningful, realistic, practical solutions
We suggest you protest and demand you are involved and consulted properly as the legitimate stakeholders HSE claims we are, when it suits them!
1) Write to the HSE to protest at:
– the price of £350-£425 which excludes safety reps automatically
– the publicity which denies that TU reps are equal stakeholders in the management of stress in the workplace when all our experience is that unions drive the agenda in the workplace to tackle stress
– and demand free places for safety reps
E-mail these to the new HSE head of Strategic Engagement: Tressy Wojtowicz – Tressy.Wojtowicz @hse.gov.uk ,
and Jill Worrall | Stress Policy Team, Operational Strategy | Engagement and Policy Division Jill.Worrall@hse.gov.uk
2) Get your Safety Officer or HR Manager to ensure funding for safety reps to accompany them so we can ensure the HSE Stress Summit hears about the real problems of tackling stress in your workplaces.