Health, Safety and Welfare
Links below lead to the appropriate section of the page
- The Law
- Health Monitoring
- Stress in the Workplace
- Excessive Workplace Temperatures
- NASUWT Advice
- Health and Safety Representatives
- Gender-Sensitive Occupational Safety and Health
- Senior Managers with Responsibility for Health and Safety Management
The NASUWT considers members' health, safety and welfare to be of utmost importance and has campaigned tirelessly to secure the statutory right that teachers and school leaders in England and Wales now have to a reasonable work/life balance. The Union continues to call for such an entitlement for all teachers and school/college leaders throughout the UK. General advice is available to NASUWT members in the form of Health and Safety at Work Publications. NASUWT Representatives can also read the Union's Health and Safety News for up-to-date information.
In 2006 the NASUWT Advancing Health and Safety Report was adopted by Annual Conference in Birmingham. The report outlines the guiding principles to the Union's approach to health and safety at work. In 2008, the NASUWT published the Safe to Teach? Report which details the findings of the extensive NASUWT survey of almost 6,000 teachers, school and college leaders and Health and Safety Representatives. The findings of the NASUWT study are highly disturbing, demonstrating that in too many schools and colleges, health and safety is simply not being taken seriously.
The NASUWT also produces Consultation Responses in the area of Health, Safety and Welfare.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (new window) and the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (new window) set out the general duties of the employer “to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.” Further laws relating to health and safety throughout the United Kingdom have implemented European Union health and safety directives. These and other Regulations impose a number of duties on the employer, as detailed in the NASUWT Health and Safety at Work leaflets The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, Health and Safety Duties and Hygiene and Welfare.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (new window) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 (new window) require employers to have a strategy to detect risks to employees health and to assess systematically the adverse effects of work on the health of employees. All employers should monitor the health of employees who are exposed to risks at work, including unhealthy stress because of their work, and should take steps to devise preventive measures and subsequently to arrange for the ‘planning, organisation, control and monitoring of (these) measures’. The duty to monitor workplace conditions in terms of their effects on employee health, should not lead to inappropriate monitoring of employees or the introduction of unreasonable and unacceptable systems of sickness absence monitoring.
The ETUCE, the European Region of Education International, has published the findings of its study on teachers’ occupational stress across Europe. The study, undertaken by the Freiburg Centre for Occupational and Social Medicine, surveyed over 5500 teachers in 500 schools in 30 European countries. It found significant variations in teachers’ experiences of occupation stress between countries and revealed that levels of stress among teachers in the UK compare unfavourably with their European peers. More information about the study can be found on the ETUCE website (new window).
The NASUWT Safe to Teach? Report found that incidents of work-related stress affected over two-thirds of all teachers who responded to the survey and that the largest single causal factor of work-related stress amongst teachers is excessive working hours. The Union is taking an exciting and proactive approach to stress management by piloting a Stress Management Training and development opportunity for members to explore their own responses to stressful situations and develop strategies to build up their resilience.
The Union also provides Stress in the workplace advice and in 2010 published the report Teachers' Mental Health: a study exploring the experiences of teachers with work-related stress and mental health problems.
In response to the concerns of members about the pressures and stresses experienced at work, the NASUWT has created a Wellbeing at Work Survey. The survey is intended to assist members in identifying the pressure points associated with their work.
In addition, the NASUWT sponsors the UK National Work-Stress Network (new window) who produce the Work Stress Information Pack (new window) and will hold their Annual Conference - Sick Workplaces – Sick Workers: Are health and safety cuts the right medicine? (new window) at NASUWT Headquarters over the weekend of 23-24 November 2013. NASUWT Health and Safety Representatives are encouraged to book a place.
The NASUWT Safe to Teach?
Report found that a significant
proportion of teachers (94% of
respondents) reported that they
had worked in excessively high
temperatures during the Summer,
and in Winter months 83% of
respondents had worked in
excessively cold temperatures.
The problem of teachers who
regularly work in excessively hot
temperatures is even more of a
concern when we consider that
three in ten (30%) respondents stated that they cannot easily access drinking water and more than a third (35%) report that the areas in which they work are not adequately ventilated. The NASUWT provides advice to members in the Heating and Ventilation advice leaflet. The Union has also provided the following bulletins for NASUWT Representatives:
- Excessive Temperatures in the Workplace, Representatives' Bulletin, England, June 2010 (PDF - 72KB);
- Excessive Temperatures In The Workplace, Representatives' Bulletin, Northern Ireland, June 2010 (PDF - 74KB);
- Excessive Temperatures In The Workplace, Representatives' Bulletin, Scotland, June 2010 (PDF - 82KB);
- Excessive Temperatures In The Workplace, Representatives' Bulletin, Wales, June 2010 (PDF - 79KB);
- Excessive Temperatures In The Workplace, Representatives' Bulletin, Wales (Welsh), June 2010 (PDF - 83KB);
- Excessive Temperatures in the Workplace, Representatives' Bulletin, UK, June 2008 (PDF - 174KB).
In addition, the NASUWT has produced a report on the Union's Campaign on excessive temperatures in the classroom (PDF - 222KB), which examines the findings of a survey of NASUWT members on excessive classroom temperatures. The Union also contributed to the TUC report - The Case for a legally enforceable maximum temperature (new window).
If excessive temperatures are a problem in your school there are a number of actions you can take to ease the problem.
General advice is available to NASUWT members in the form of Health and Safety at Work Publications.
Advice leaflets in the area of Health, Safety and Welfare include Asbestos, Bullying at Work, Disability Health and Safety Issues , First Aid, Headlice and Nits, Health and Safety Duties, Lifting and Carrying, The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations. The Union also produces a range of advice and guidance on Stress in the Workplace. A full list of all NASUWT Health and Safety at Work Publications is on the right-hand side of the page.
Members who experience health problems as a result of their employment should seek medical advice and raise any concerns with the NASUWT Health and Safety Representative.
The Union aims to have a trained Health and Safety Representative in every school and college where there are members. The NASUWT Health and Safety Representative is elected by fellow members of the Union in their workplace to represent them on matters of health, safety and welfare at work and is not appointed by the head teacher, principal or anyone else. The NASUWT Regional Centre or National Centre should be able to provide their contact details or advice.
To learn more about the role members can read the Health and Safety Representative leaflet and visit the Getting active as a Health and Safety Representative section of the website. You will need to be registered as a NASUWT Representative and 'log in' to the website to view this.
The NASUWT provides Health and Safety Training Courses to those currently in post or about to become a NASUWT Health and Safety Representative, Health and Safety Training Officer or Health and Safety Coordinator. The Time Off for Trade Union Learning leaflet provides essential information and advice for Health and Safety Representatives' on their statutory right to time off for NASUWT training. The Union Health and Safety Inspections leaflet provides essential information relating to Health and Safety Representatives' statutory right to carry out a health and safety inspection of the workplace.
To access information on the latest developments in health and safety NASUWT Representatives can also read the Union's Health and Safety News for up-to-date information and Subscribe to Risks (new window), the TUC's free weekly online bulletin for safety representatives. The TUC Safety Representatives' Resources (new window) are also available.
NASUWT Representatives also have access to the Health and Safety Representatives' Handbook which is a key resource on health and safety matters in schools and colleges throughout the UK. The handbook provides health and safety advice on relevant issues and signposts additional NASUWT resources, relevant legislation and other useful publications. You will need to be registered as a NASUWT Representative and 'log in' to the website to view this.
In all aspects of health and safety, gender stereotyping should be avoided. The NASUWT recommends a gender-sensitive approach to health and safety as a way of improving prevention for both women and men and making sure that everyone is equally protected.
Research has shown that both biological and socially determined differences between women and men affect workers' health and safety in many ways. These differences are too often ignored or misunderstood, leading to failures in the prevention of occupational injuries and ill health. Everyone has an equal right to protection from harm at work but that doesn't mean treating everyone as if they are all the same.
The NASUWT participated, through the TUC Gender Occupational Safety and Health (GOSH) Working Group, in the development of the TUC Gender Sensitive Checklist (new window). The Checklist is designed to help Health and Safety Representatives and others to check whether their workplace health and safety policies and practices are gender sensitive.
NASUWT members who are senior managers in schools and colleges who carry responsibility for the management of health and safety in their workplace can attend the Union's one-day Health and Safety Management Training.
The following organisations' websites provide further useful information on health, safety and welfare at work issues. Please note that all of the links listed below will open in a new window.