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December 2018

Derek Maylor, Chairperson:

Many of our telecom members are putting in Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) and 5G services which will bring in the biggest communications revolution since we went from two tin cans joined by a bit of string to wired telephony.

The H & S community should be looking at the opportunities to take risk assessments and safe methods of work out of the files on a shelf in an office, just coming out once a year for the annual review and sign off then placed back on the self to gather dust, changed into the immediate delivery of safety information on demand to a field worker when needed.

Over The Top (OTT) services offer new ways of making the workplace safer and we need to embed delivery and use at the beginning of the revolution and not play catch up later in the day.

A worker out in any situation will be able to call on Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) for a visual run through of a situation he/she may have never met before, highly defined with millisecond latency, problems highlighted and solutions offered before they commence work. Whilst this would never be a replacement for suitable and sufficient training the use of new resources on demand can only improve safety.

We can work with the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector to look for new innovative ways of delivering H&S when needed most in the best suitable manner. We have to embrace the communications evolution, look to develop and grow influence in making all workplaces and working practices safer, the Coord will look to set up a round table discussion amongst interested stakeholders.  

At the other end of technology the opposite of useful intervention, as the TUC recently noted, is the fact that some UK companies are considering microchipping workers – like dogs. Allegedly to help them get access to secure areas.

Not just active 100% surveillance, full time monitoring whether in work, off work, at home or at the football then.

Tracking toilet breaks is one thing and abhorrent but this is just for more power and control over their workers, some employers already make staff wear location-tracking devices. Such an erosion of dignity and the natural right to privacy in, and outside, the workplace must never be allowed.

British businesses asked the Government to review occupational health provision to more than work related sickness absence. However when digging down it appears that it was led by an insurance company, maybe it was even led by their concern for paying out vast sums of money that could be avoided?

Some of us have access to OH services but they are not the all-round care of years ago, now often diluted to even “over the phone physiotherapy” advice. It is not a huge leap in imagination to know that a healthy workforce is a more productive workforce consequently investment in the wellbeing of workers by the employer and Government makes sense for business and for  society from reduced benefits and pressure on the chronically underfunded NHS.

As always, and in conclusion; we aim to provide the best advice and representation for our members and to:

*Ensure a safe working environment
*Promote occupational health
*Help members raise safety concerns
*Advance industry best practice
*Provide representation at national meetings
*Raise issues with other safety or government bodies

Our greatest assets are our Union Safety Representatives and we fully support them in their work.

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