Staying safe at work

Whilst Coronavirus restrictions have now eased, we advise that members stay vigilant at work and follow the below advice to stay safe at work.

Risk assessments 

If you are attending your workplace, then your employer should undertake a risk assessment to ensure that the workplace is Coronavirus secure.

As part of managing health and safety within the business, employers should control risks. They should think about what might cause harm to people and take reasonable steps to prevent that harm.

It is a legal requirement for employers to carry out risk assessments. If your employer has fewer than five employees, they don’t need to write anything down.

As a general rule, there are 5 steps to a risk assessment.

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide the precautions
  4. Record your significant findings
  5. Review and update as necessary

Visit our resource on risk assessments to find out more.

Keeping your workplace safe 

The latest guidance on keeping your workplace safe from coronavirus is available here.  The HSE advises that the key things you can do to prevent the spread of COVID are:

  1. Have good ventilation
  2. Wash your hands frequently
  3. Clean your workplace

Employee engagement 

Your employer has a duty to consult with workers about health and safety. Employers must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised union. Employers cannot decide who the representative should be.

As is usual practice, workers should be involved in assessing workplace risks and the in the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer.

Trade union safety reps should be consulted about how risk assessments are carried out and the measures that will be taken as a result. If your workplace has more than 5 employees then your trade union safety rep has a right to access the written risk assessment.

They should also see any external reports from outside experts.

We encourage employers to publish their risk assessments so that they are available to everyone, in line with government guidance.

The role of the trade union health and safety rep 

The health and safety rep has an important role in risk assessments. They should:

  • Monitor the assessment to ensure that it’s carried out thoroughly and correctly.
  • Contribute their knowledge and experience.
  • Ensure all hazards are identified and risks evaluated.
  • Ensure control measures are appropriate to protect workers and others.
  • Confirm that information is shared with everyone who needs it.
  • Ensure that the results of risk assessments are complied with.
  • Make sure that assessments are reviewed, revisited, and updated as often as necessary.

Equality and health and safety 

Employers should be mindful of the needs of different groups of workers or individuals.

Employers should consider planning for workers who are vulnerable or shielding and should encourage them to work from home where possible.

Employers should consider reasonable adjustments, or other measures like staggered shifts, which could help to reduce the chance of transmission.

It is against the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex or disability.

If you don’t feel your workplace is safe 

Asking people to work in an unsafe workplace is a breach of health and safety law and could be putting lives at risk. As a last resort, every employee (but not ‘workers’ or self-employed people) has the right not to suffer detriment if they leave or refuse to attend their place of work (or take other appropriate steps) in circumstances where they reasonably believe there is a risk of being exposed to serious and imminent danger. This protection comes from section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

If you feel you are being put at risk, it is crucial to get advice before you act. Speak to your Community Health and Safety Representative, your regional team, or our health and safety hotline at

If you need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.


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