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G4S Health and Safety Update - By John McLean GMB

As Bob Mayley, G4S National H&S Officer has stated in his article there is a new era abroad between GMB and G4S with regard to Health & Safety. It was therefore felt that it might be useful for your Trade Union to put down on paper some basic thoughts on what you as a member should expect on your rights to health, safety and welfare provision.

Risk Assessments

Risk assessments should be carried out on all tasks to, firstly establish the level of risk involved with that job and then, secondly to design as safe a system of work as possible. The first step is the identification of any hazards associated with the job and then see if control measures to either eliminate the hazard, or more likely reduce exposure to the hazard can be introduced.

Sometimes workers can get confused between the terms hazard and risk. A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm. Examples include chemicals, electricity or a member of the public. The risk is slightly more complicated in that there is an element of guesswork in this, as the risk should determine the likelihood that something could go wrong. Information which can help establish the level of risk could include accident statistics from your workplace. If a number of colleagues have been off in the last year with a "bad back" then there might be a manual handling problem. Other evidence is called anecdotal. This is where while there may not be personal experience in your workplace there may be evidence from other, similar workplaces. This could cover areas such as lone working or violence against the worker.

Who should carry out a Risk assessment?

Management should appoint a "Competent Person" to carry out a risk assessment. This person does not necessarily need qualifications (though increasingly many now do have NVQs or their equivalent) but should meet the criteria set down by the HSE. This would include knowledge of the job, some basic health and safety training and the principles of risk assessment. It is important that there is involvement from GMB safety representatives and/or members of the workforce as they will have "practical knowledge to bring to the assessment ". Not the words of GMB but HSE and who are we to disagree!

It is hoped that health & safety will be a regular feature of this bulletin. Please feedback any comments and ideas for future topics to Angus or e mail me direct at john.mcclean@gmb.org.uk . I look forward to hearing from you

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