Workers Uniting at Unite Health & Safety Conference

On October 11 United Steelworkers District 3 Health, Safety & Environment Coordinator Ron Corbeil participated in the East Midlands regional health and safety conference. Held at the East Midlands conference centre in Nottingham, Corbeil spoke to the conference on District 3’s experiences with behavioural based health and safety.

Corbeil told the 370 delegates to the conference that "BBS knows no borders or boundaries.” He told the delegates that employers that implement BBS programs mistakenly believe that there is a quick health and safety fix by implementing these programs. He went on to say that it was his experience that the fatalities that have occurred in District 3 generally had three things in common: the worker didn't expect it, there were previous warnings and there were a number of causes. He told the delegates that to just blame the worker would not prevent the incident from happening again unless you remove the hazards.

Workers Uniting developed a statement on behavioural safety, available here.

The conference was chaired by Regional Officer Rob Miguel and was open by the Regional secretary Gerard Coyne.

There was a presentation on managing stress in the workplace at the plenary session that discussed issues that sounded very familiar to some of the situations workers in Canada find themselves in.

In addition the conference had workshops on: Dangerous Substances Explosive Atmospheres; Health and Safety Legal Issues; Stress in the Workplace; Equality issues in Health and Safety; Driver Safety; Body Mapping and Investigation.

Labour Member of the European Parliament Glenis Willmott spoke to the delegates on political issues effecting health and safety such as the Conservative Government’s suggestions to opt out of the EU and the progressive legislation that has come from the European Parliament, standing alone, Britain’s voice and influence are limited.  “But as a leading voice, shaping the direction of the European Union of 27 countries, the British voice can be heard and our national interests can be protected.”

Following the conference, Corbeil had an opportunity to meet with staff from Unite at the head office in London. In talking with Susan Murray and Bud Hudspith from the Unite health and safety department Corbeil noted the similarities between the health and safety issues in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Issues such as stress, contracting out, behavioural based safety, health and safety enforcement and deregulation by the politicians are issues that both countries have in common.

Simon Dubbins, the Unite union's head of international affairs gave Corbeil a presentation on Unites formation and structure of Unites 1.5 million membership. There is hardly a sector that Unite isn’t in said Corbeil.

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