Organising a safe and healthy workplace

By RCM Health and Safety Advisor Lesley Wood on 06 September 2023 RCM UK Research Safety Wellbeing Of Women Women ICM - International Congress of Midwives

For the 34th Hazards Conference – the largest educational and organising event for trade union health and reps and activists – the RCM brought the Caring for You campaign to the fore to speak to activists and push the agenda for better health, safety and welling being for members. RCM’s Health and Safety Advisor Lesley Wood shares what happened on the day in her latest blog.

The Hazards campaign is well known as the campaign that brought us International Workers Memorial Day in the 90s and has since been a at the forefront of tackling hazards that impact all workers. Attending on behalf of the RCM, I spoke at the Get me home safely and lone working workshop and presented Caring for You resources at the RCM stall.

The RCM membership is largely made up of women. With this in mind it was  important to talk at this workshop to express the concerns of members on lone working and how they can be kept safe at work. We pointed to the RCM publication on Lone working and other Caring for You resources that can help members who have challenges with lone working.

As well as this we spoke with so many other health and safety reps on menopause policy, inclusivity policies, carer’s leave, sickness and absence and all the other policies that we have successfully negotiated with employers. And how events such as Hazards are the perfect opportunity to share t polices, good practice and look for new ways to improve the workplace and make them safer and healthier for staff.

We also discussed the work the RCM has taken around excessive exposure to nitrous oxide in the workplace with the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) and links with their decontamination of the workplace campaign and clean air campaign.

The passion from the delegates really shone through and made me realise the influence and importance of health and safety reps. I am very proud of all the existing reps that we currently have at the RCM but do believe the more enthusiastic and passionate people we can recruit, the more changes there will be. It was an honour to sit among reps who challenge work-related stress, injuries and deaths through dedication and hear their determination to improve working conditions of their members.

Eleanor Ritchie, RCM Bedfordshire Branch health and safety rep, steward and assistant staff side chair joined me on the day and said “I have never in my NHS career been included in workshops from such a varied background, shop workers, prison warden, teachers, Royal mail, Bakers Union and Firefighters to name a few. It was refreshing to network with all the trade union health & safety representatives, learning and exchanging good/not so good practice in our workplace.  I would recommend this conference to all H&S representatives, l have gained & improved my knowledge in attending. Looking forward to next year.”

To mark the upcoming the National Suicide Prevention Day (10 September) we also learned about the Hazards suicide prevention campaign. It is shocking that worldwide, work kills a minimum of 2.9 million people every year. You can help the campaign by completing this postcard and sending it to employers using this link.

If you are interested in becoming a health and safety rep for the RCM, access resources and contact us here.