In the TUC’s tenth biennial survey, stress, bullying and harassment, problems relating to heavy workloads and violence and intimidation were cited as the top safety concerns by union safety reps.
These worries are caused by rising fears of insecurity and unease felt in the workforce due to spending cuts, according to the TUC.
The survey also suggested that safety reps are concerned about a likely decline in the number of safety inspections that are to be carried out. Cuts to the budgets of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities are expected to occur and therefore fewer HSE and council safety inspectors are going to be examining employers.
Of the 1,875 safety reps who responded to the survey, 45% said that their workplace had never had a visit from a safety inspector, while 10% said they had not seen an inspector in their workplace for more than three years.
The TUC survey also found that 53% of safety reps said that their employer had made some attempt at safety improvements because of the possibility of an inspection, in comparison to 61% in 2010.
Commenting on the survey, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, said:
“Fears about how austerity is affecting peoples’ jobs and their families is having a real impact on the health and well-being of UK workers.
“As jobs are cut, so the workload of those left behind increases. As the workload rise so do the stress levels of over-worked employees, which lead to a greater risk of bullying and harassment as stressed-out supervisors take out their frustrations on staff.
“Government spending cuts are also having a big effect on the likelihood of workplaces receiving visits from HSE or council safety inspectors. A growing number of employers now seem content to let safety standards slip, so confident are they that an inspector is unlikely to call and hold their workplace safety policies to account.”