UNISON calls on employers to review COVID-19 protections

Move comes as cases of the Omicron variant soar and HSE figures reveal the scale of the pandemic impact on workers’ health

UNISON is calling on employers to review their COVID-19 risk assessments and put all reasonable measures in place to reduce the risk of exposure to those who cannot work from home, given the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant.

The latest data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed that 645,000 workers reported suffering from a work-related illness caused or made worse by the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, including high levels of stress, anxiety and depression.

UNISON members are key workers on the front line, in hospitals, care homes and schools, but also refuse workers and members working in police custody suites or as carers in people’s homes. 

Ventilation, air cleaning and access to the most appropriate protective equipment for the level of risk, are all important measures in workplaces such as schools and hospitals, where social distancing may not be possible.

UNISON’s national health and safety officer Kim Sunley said:All this needs to be backed up by proactive inspection and enforcement activity from the HSE, as we know that some employers downplay the risk or think that vaccination is enough of a control measure.

“Until we know more about Omicron, employers should be stepping up and responding to this emerging risk, including further cases of long COVID, as the numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19 continue to increase.”  

For more information on COVID-19, and links to UNISON guides on workplace safety and risk assessment, visit the union’s pandemic hub, Coronavirus: Your rights at workhere.

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