Employees have a right to be safe at work. By law your employer must provide:
- A safe place of work
- Safe plant and equipment
- Safe systems of work
- Competent Co-workers
You must also contribute in every way possible to a safe work environment and obey lawful instruction from your employer to ensure safety. If your employer recognises a trade union and the union has appointed a safety representative, your employer must consult the safety representative. If there is no recognised union, your employer must either consult you direct or, a safety representative elected by the employees. All employers, whatever the size of the business, must:
- make the workplace safe
- prevent risks to health
- ensure that plant and machinery is safe to use, and that safe working practices are set up and followed
- make sure that all materials are handled, stored and used safely
- provide adequate first aid facilities
- tell you about any potential hazards from the work you do, chemicals and other substances used by the firm, and give you information, instructions, training and supervision as needed
- set up emergency plans
- make sure that ventilation, temperature, lighting, and toilet, washing and rest facilities all meet health, safety and welfare requirements
- check that the right work equipment is provided and is properly used and regularly maintained • prevent or control exposure to substances that may damage your health
- take precautions against the risks caused by flammable or explosive hazards, electrical equipment, noise and radiation • avoid potentially dangerous work involving manual handling (and if it can’t be avoided, take precautions to reduce the risk of injury)
- provide health supervision as needed • provide protective clothing or equipment free of charge (if risks can’t be removed or adequately controlled by any other means)
- ensure that the right warning signs are provided and looked after
- report certain accidents, injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences to either the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the local authority, depending on the type of business
The behaviours described below are illegal and, if encountered, should be reported to your union. Bullying is defined as behaviour of either a physical, psychological or verbal nature, which is unwelcome and unwanted. Examples of such are – open offensive and abusive aggression; threats and intimidation; constant humiliation including insulting behaviour; sneering; taking credit for another person’s work; undermining a person’s authority; spreading malicious rumours These actions are designed by the bully to make the persons feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable and which often leads to an undermining of their confidence and which can often lead to stress.
Harassment on the other hand is defined in equality law as any act or conduct which is unwanted and unwelcome, and which could reasonably be regarded as offensive, humiliating or intimidating. Subjecting people to harassment or treating them less favourably on any of the eight discriminatory grounds for example, ethnicity or national origin (see Equality section) through name-calling, isolation or exclusion within the workplace, unwarranted criticism of work performance, production, display or circulation of offensive material may all constitute examples of harassment.
Sexual Harassment is defined as unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which violates the dignity of a person or which creates for them an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating of offensive environment. Examples include – sexually suggestive jokes; innuendo; questions or insults about one’s private life; unwelcome sexual attention, leering; offensive gestures or whistling; suggestions that sexual favours may further someone’s career, or that refusal may damage it. It also covers less favourable treatment as a result of rejecting or refusing to be submitted to the above conduct.