0151 666 3040 unison@wirralunison.co.uk

Hi and welcome to the Health and Safety section of Wirral Unison's new website as some of you will know I’m Nick Bower the Branch Health and Safety Officer.

Hazards Magazine

On here you will find information on the latest issues affecting members in this Branch. There is also information, links and contacts to help you with Health and Safety issues in your workplace.

Issues that are currently at the forefront at the moment are:

Flu Jabs

This year’s flu vaccination programme is now underway with the Council providing seasonal flu jabs to key groups of employees to ensure continuity of key services overwinter. These are -employees who work in front line positions or care for vulnerable people and may therefore have an increased chance of exposure to seasonal flu.

  • Vaccinations will be available to employees by one of two methods:
  • A mobile vaccination session near your workplace
  • An appointment at the Occupational Health Unit.

Those employees who have been identified by departments will receive an appointment letter in due course.

Some of the more frequently asked questions in relation to seasonal flu will be answered on the Council’s Intranet or you can access the winter health pages at http://www.nhs.uk/winterhealth .

Your GP practice will also be able to answer any queries you have about your eligibility/access to flu vaccine.

Staff not invited can still be vaccinated privately for a fee through a number of different sources, these include pharmacies and private healthcare providers.

HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome), VWF (Vibration White Finger), CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) in Parks and Countryside.

Unison has been involved in raising staff and employer awareness of the risks. We are also involved (jointly with Unite, Management and Corporate Health and Safety) in the development of controls to reduce the risks of our members being exposed to these occupational diseases.

Near Misses

The under reporting of “Near Misses”. The definition of a near miss is any incident that could have resulted in an injury. Currently we believe that on the whole these are not being reported due to staff not realising the importance of doing this. Reporting “Near Misses” helps in identifying unsafe practices, trends (e.g. Slips reported in the same vicinity over a period of time is indicative of a bigger problem), and could prevent someone suffering an injury in the future. We are currently in talks with Corporate Health and Safety to start a campaign to raise people’s awareness of this issue.

Workplace Assessments

This is an assessment that should be carried out before someone returns to work after long term illness, surgery, broken bones etc. It is nothing to do with Capability but is a way of identifying what a person can and cannot do on their return and identify any reasonable adjustments that may be needed. Currently management have been failing to do these and the result has been that staff have had to go back on sick leave. By doing this the chance of that person will have to go back on sick leave is greatly reduced.

This issue has been raised corporately and as a result a Working Party is to be set up to investigate ways to promote these assessments and Unison will be involved in that Working Party.

Verbal Abuse

The under reporting of Verbal Abuse. We have raised the issue that while Physical Violence is reported cases of Verbal Abuse are not. No one should come to work and be subjected to verbal abuse, either from colleagues or members of the public. Verbal abuse can take several forms e.g. face to face, over the phone, via email or text. All cases need to be reported and there is a system in place for this. We are asking that there is a campaign to promote this and that Wirral Council review and replace the current anti verbal abuse posters, which we see as insufficient, with one similar to the NHS posters which clearly states this sort of abuse will not be tolerated and legal action will be taken against offenders.

We are also looking to recruit more Health and Safety Reps, so if there is none in your workplace and you are interested in taking on this role then contact myself through Branch and I will advise you on how to go about being elected, the training available (which is provided by the TUC, and in my opinion is second to none).

If you have any Health and Safety queries or want more information on any of the above then contact me either through Branch or by email, I’m on Wirral Council's email system.