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
- International Workers' Memorial Day - 28 April 2016
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.
The NASUWT also produces Consultation Responses in the area of Health, Safety and Welfare and has produced a summary of Health and Safety Changes since 2010 when the Coalition Government came into office. The TUC has also written a summary of What the Party Manifestos say on health and safety (new window).
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.
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 Labour Force Survey in UK shows that every year over 500,000 workers are affected by stress in their workplace. 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 5,500 teachers in 500 schools in 30 European countries. It found significant variations in teachers’ experiences of occupational 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. The NASUWT Big Question Survey shows that work-related stress is consistently a problem for teachers. In 2014, four fifths of teachers (80%) stated that they have experienced more workplace
stress in the last 12 months, an increase of 3% since this question was first asked in 2012.
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 and will once again hold their Annual Conference - Mental Health in the Workplace: Tackling work-stress in a changing working environment - at NASUWT Headquarters over the weekend of 19-20 November 2016. NASUWT Health and Safety Representatives are encouraged to download the Work Stress Information Pack (PDF - new window) and attend the annual conference held at NASUWT Headquarters. To book a place, visit www.workstress.net/.
The NASUWT Safe to Teach? Report found that the overwhelming majority of teachers (94%) 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:
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 and to the subsequent fact sheet Time to Change Health and Safety bulletin - 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.
The Union 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 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. Health and Safety Representatives' have a statutory right to time off for NASUWT training and a statutory right to carry out a health and safety inspection of the workplace.
The legal rights of Safety Representatives can be found in the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees (SRSC) Regulations, 1977 Approved Code of Practice (ACoP), commonly known as the 'Brown Book'. This contains the SRSC Regulations, ACoP and guidance on safety representatives. The NASUWT has produced a version of the Brown Book for NASUWT Safety Representatives.
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 NASUWT supports International Workers' Memorial Day (IWMD). The purpose behind Workers' Memorial Day has always been to "remember the dead: fight for the living". The day is usually commemorated by events or memorials to remember all those killed through work but at the same time ensuring that such tragedies are not repeated. The theme for the day in 2016 is 'Strong Laws - Strong enforcement - Strong Unions'. For details of events in your local area, or to advertise your own event, please visit the TUC Workers' Memorial Day webpage (new window).