Health & Safety


Let us make your workplace safe

If health and safety at work is one of your main concerns, CWU South East Anglia Branch has guidelines in place to ensure you have a safe and hazard-free workplace. Contact our team in Chelmsford today to be a part of the change.

We place a high priority on health, safety and the environment 

The union's National Health, Safety & Environment Department has many responsibilities including national level negotiations with employers, and external organisations such as the TUC, and the HSE, as well as with MPs. CWU South East Anglia Branch places a high priority on health, safety and environmental concerns, and has one department with the responsibility for dealing with these matters, across the whole of the union. We strive to maintain consistent policies and high standards of health and safety for the union's membership.

We deal with a wide range of policy issues in our health and safety campaigns. Branches, safety reps and regional health and safety forums play a vital role in promoting these issues and campaigns.

The head of department is National Officer Dave Joyce.


Fines rise, but prosecutions fall for H&S crimes
10 Aug 2017, By Hugh Robertson
I was very pleased to read that, between February 2016 and February 2017, the total value of fines imposed on businesses for health and safety offences was £73.2 million. That was up from £35.4 million for the previous 12 months. This is more than double the previous total and is mainly down to new beefed-up sentencing guidelines to courts that came into effect in February last year.
Unfortunately, while the size of fines are going up, far less cases are being taken. According to the latest HSE annual report, the number of prosecutions mounted by the HSE fell sharply last year. In 2015–16, the HSE instituted 696 cases, 95% of which resulted in a conviction for at least one offence. In 2016–17, however, provisional figures show that this fell to 547, a decline of 21%.
On the other hand, the HSE served substantially more improvement notices than in recent years. Last year, there were 6700 improvement notices compared to 5700 the year before and 6270 in 2014-15. Interestingly around a third of these improvement notices related to health cases, which is a very welcome trend.
Trade unions have a slightly mixed view on prosecutions, after all they are a sign that something has gone wrong and our priority is to prevent injuries happening in the first place. Also they are very time consuming and we want HSE and local authority inspectors doing their job preventing things happening rather than spending huge amounts of time preparing for court cases.
On the other hand it is clear that, for many employers, the threat of a prosecution is the only thing that keeps them from totally ignoring their health and safety responsibilities all together so we need strong enforcement action as a deterrent.
So, while the big increase in fines is welcome, the problem is that, given that the HSE no longer does pro-active inspections of most workplaces, the chances of actually being prosecuted are virtually nil unless you report that there has been an injury, which means that employers are far less likely to report. It also means that employers are not being prosecuted for serious failings before someone gets injured, only after an injury has taken place.
It is also true that most long term illness is a result of stress or musculoskeletal disorders and they are the ones least likely to be reported to the HSE and also occur in the sectors that are least likely to be visited by an inspector.
That is why union health and safety representatives are so important. Not only do we keep the workplace safer but we can make sure that, whenever an injury or illness leading to more than seven days off work does occur, it is reported, and that less severe injuries are recorded in the accident book.
The one area that prosecutions are more likely to take place is after a fatality. Again the priority must be in prevention, but a prosecution of the employer sends an important message and can help give a sense of justice to the family of the victim.
Yet workplace killings are treated differently than other killings. There are several kinds of manslaughter. Corporate manslaughter is brought against companies or organisations, but individuals can be prosecuted for voluntary, unlawful, involuntary or gross negligence manslaughter. Health and safety prosecutions are almost always brought under the “manslaughter by gross negligence” category, but the penalties on conviction for this type of offence are, on average, less than half that of the other types of manslaughter, with an average of four years in prison against 8-10 for the others. For health and safety offences the sentence is often even suspended.
Hopefully all that is going to change. The body that recommends sentencing to the courts has issued a consultation that proposes bringing the penalties for health and safety manslaughter in line with all the others which is long overdue. The TUC and trade unions will be responding to the consultation welcoming it.
Hugh Robertson
Written by Hugh Robertson

Hugh Robertson is the Senior Policy Officer for Health and Safety at the TUC. For nine years he was a member of the board of the Health and Safety Executive and is currently a member of the Government’s Industrial Injuries Advisory Council. 

Health and Safety Fines Rise By 148%

UK companies paid £6.1 million in health and safety fines in 2016. That’s a rise of 148% on fines paid in 2015. 

The average pay-out had risen to £211,000 – four times the £69,500 average cost seen in 2015. 

These fines came from a total of 292 incidents recorded in 2016 and 358 incidents in 2015.

This rise in fines can be attributed to changes introduced with the new Sentencing Council guidelines introduced in February 2016. This definitive guidance to Magistrates and Judges introduced new tougher sentences for health and safety, food hygiene and corporate manslaughter offences.

As compelled by the new guidelines, courts must now consider culpability, seriousness and likelihood of harm and the size of the business when imposing fines.

This new system has been implemented to improve compliance with health and safety legislation for larger organisations (such as Royal Mail and British Telecommunications) by imposing fines proportionate to the size of the business. Fines for businesses with a turnover in excess of £50m can now reach up to £10m for health and safety offences, and corporate manslaughter fines could be as much as £20m.

These latest figures highlight 18 fines that were issued worth over £1 million during the year. This is a marked increase over 2015’s number of £1 million fines of which there was only two.

The new sentencing guidelines send a strong, stern message to all businesses and employers big or small that it is critical to ensure that safety processes and systems are a board level priority. 

The figures reveal that the construction sector was the most costly, racking up a fines bill of almost £14m. This was followed by manufacturing (£12m), Utilities (£8.4m), Leisure (£7.4m), Logistics and transport (£7.2m), Industrials (£3.9m) and the Public Sector (£2.6m).

Yours sincerely
Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer


As many of us get older we find that our ability to carry out the work which we are employed to do may get more difficult due to possible failing heath. Although this is not of course confined to those of us of an older generation!

Many employers understand this and have in place systems where by they are able to refer the employee to a health professional for advice in regards to the persons particular health condition, this is known as an OHS Referral. For some of our members this can be quite a daunting prospect, however it can be less so if you are prepared before hand and to that end your branch has devised a brief check list for you to refer to before you attend any OHS meeting.

We hope you find it useful.



Nigel Bailey,
CWU South East Anglia Branch Sec,
01245 211960/07983 001825

OHS Checklist



Questions to ask prior to the meeting


1. How long will the appointment last?

2. What will happen at the appointment?

3. Do I need to bring anything along to the meeting? Yes, please see below

4. Is it compulsory to attend?

5. What is the purpose of the meeting?

6. Is the meeting confidential?

7. Can someone attend the meeting with me?

8. Who carries out the OHS assessment?

9. Will I get time off to attend the appointment?

10. Do I have to travel to the appointment or can they visit me at home?

11. Is my travel paid for?

12. If consent is given for access to my medical records, does this include access to all or just those relating to my current medical issue for which I’m being referred?

13. Will this assessment replace the care I am receiving from my doctor/specialist?




Things to take along to your appointment


- Union rep, family member or friend (to support not represent)

- Current job description

- Proposed new role job description

- Summary of the job you perform

- Copy of reasonable agreed adjustments already in place

- Employer absence reports

- Accident/incident/violence reports

- List of medications including dosage (your repeat prescription)

- Medical aids i.e inhalers, walking aids

- Copies of xrays/scans/blood tests

- Fit notes

- GP reports

- Consultant/specialist reports

- Details forthcoming of medical appointments/operation dates

- Monitoring diaries i.e diabetic glucose, mood, peak flow diaries.




Questions to ask at the meeting


1. Why am I here?

2. What is your role?

3. What happens afterwards?

4. How long will the report take to come through and will I see it before my employer?

5. Who will see the report?


Rights must not be a casualty of the Great Repeal Bill

Safety and employment protections must not be a casualty of the government’s Great Repeal Bill, which seeks to bring EU-derived workers’ rights into UK law, unions have said. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the measures ‘fall short’ of the prime minister’s promise to fully protect and maintain all workers’ rights that came from the EU. “The government proposes handing the power to change important rights and protections at work that British workers already have to judges. This means that important rules to protect workers could be overturned, without the UK parliament having any say,” she said. “The government is also taking wide-ranging powers that will allow ministers to scrap or water down rights like protections from excessive working hours, equal treatment for agency workers, and redundancy protections.” She said the prime minister “needs to think again. She should carve out a specific exemption in the Great Repeal Bill to stop holes being punched in the rights that working people in Britain currently have.” UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Until now many of the laws that protect employees from unfair or unsafe treatment at the hands of their employers started out in Europe.” He added: “When the government can pick and choose which rights stay and which go, long-held laws guaranteeing annual leave, keeping employees safe at work, and stopping them from being forced to do excessively long shifts without breaks could disappear in a flash. As the government takes full control of these laws, ministers need to remember no-one voted last year for employment rights to be watered down or removed altogether.”

Ÿ TUC news release. The Great Repeal Bill and Theresa May’s comments to the House of Commons, 29 March 2017. UNISON news release. Morning Star.


Weil,s Disease(Leptospirosis).
Weil,s disease is a disease carried by rats and other rodents, which they pass on via their urine.
Anybody working in areas inhabited or visited by rats must be regarded as at risk of infection. The chances of infection are increased greatly in wet or damp conditions. The infection can enter the body via bruises, cuts, eyes, nose and mouth.
Leptospirosis in the early stages can resemble other disease including influenza. If diagnosed promptly it is easily cured.

Precautions which should be taken.
1. Always wear protective clothing, including gloves.
2. Thoroughly wash all exposed skin areas on completion of work in the suspected area.
3. Protect all cuts, scratches and bruises with waterproof plasters until completely healed. Vinyl gloves must be worn over plasters where cuts or abrasions are on hands or fingers.
4. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
5. Never eat, drink or smoke in the contaminated area or afterwards until you have washed your hands.
6. Use gloves when handling wet protective clothing and dry ASAP.
7. If injured, cut or bruised within a suspected contaminated area, seek medical advice ASAP. If you become unwell particularly with flu like symptoms again seek medical advice. 
8. Inform your Doctor, on you next routine visit, 
That you work in an environment where you may be exposed to the disease. 

Letters to branches
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Key aims of our health department:

  • Avoid or prevent accident and ill health by employers
  • Access prompt care and advice in case of ill health or injury 
  • In case of accident, employers take measures to minimise the impact of ill health and support the workers
  • Employers to provide safe and healthy workplaces by identifying hazards and taking the necessary factors to mitigate them
man health sign

Supporting and protecting our members

Any work carried out by the department is reported via the ten Regional Health and Safety Forums, LTBs, Branch Officials Bulletins, Safety Rep Newsletters, Voice Magazine, our website and CWU Annual Report, the Health, Safety & Environment Sub-Committee, T & FSE and PEC Health, Safety & Environment Sub Committees.

The union supports and protects its members, while promoting their interests when it comes to health and safety issues. Any concerns can be processed through the network of health and safety committees, which make consultative arrangements through nationally recognised agreements.

Contact Us

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For health and safety at work, call CWU South East Anglia Branch on 01245 211 960 or visit our team in Chelmsford.
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