Manchester: Your Health and Safety

WMD Inspections
No, “WMD Inspections” does not mean your safety reps have found Saddam’s elusive stockpile in MAN35! WMD is “Workers Memorial Day”, when people around the world “remember the dead and fight for the living” – the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 2.3 million people a year are killed by work worldwide.
Fujitsu employees don’t generally work in environments with a significant risk of a lethal incident, but:

  • Work can cause or contribute to stress and depression, and employees sometimes take their own lives
  • Employees do sometimes die at work due to avoidable health problems
  • Many of us drive for work and collisions do happen

To coincide with Workers Memorial Day, UNITE Health & Safety Reps will be carrying out another round of workplace inspections, to help improve your working environment, your health and your safety.
This time the following areas will be inspected:

  • MAN33 second floor
  • MAN34 second floor
  • MAN35 ground floor
  • External areas

If you have any issues or concerns that you would like to be checked during the inspection, please contact your Health & Safety Rep beforehand.
Electrical Safety Testing
UNITE has been pushing Fujitsu to carry out electrical safety tests in line with their published procedure for the inspection and testing of portable electrical equipment (“PAT” testing in the jargon). In a workplace like ours, this is obviously a key measure to safeguard your safety against both electrical shock and fire.
Last year, Unite Health and Safety reps brought the lack of testing to Fujitsu Services management attention, having identified areas on the Manchester Campus that have a large number of portable electrical equipment items without any record of being PAT tested.
We are pleased to report that some action has now been taken in one area, where in the region of 150 items of kit went through Formal Visual Inspection. Amongst other things, this highlighted:

  • an unsafe electrical cable that had its outer protective sheath worn through, having been trapped by furniture
  • potential overloading of electrical sockets through the use of multi-socket extensions
  • a number of non-moulded plugs in use
  • a large number of electrical cables that were plugged in, but not actually powering anything

This is a step forward, and UNITE continues to encourage the company to do more. Adequate records of inspections should be kept, and a testing regime put in place so that testing takes place without the need to be triggered by Unite Health and Safety inspections, or an individual employee’s concerns.
Workstation Assessments
Many employees suffer pain in their backs, necks, shoulders and arms which is related to their work. If you suffer pain, it is important to deal with it promptly. Failure to do so can result in it progressing into a serious disability that can make it almost impossible to carry out many normal daily activities.
It is often possible to change working patterns and/or the arrangement of an employee’s workstation to relieve or even eliminate pain, so don’t suffer in silence.
To try to prevent health problems arising from using computers, the law requires employers to carry out risk assessments for employees using “Display Screen Equipment” (DSE) – these are usually known as “workstation assessments”. The law says these assessments must be carried out by someone competent to do so, and that Health & Safety Reps must be consulted over the appointment of such competent persons. A good workstation assessment can identify and eliminate many potential causes of health problems before they occur.
UNITE in Fujitsu has campaigned long and hard to ensure that workstation assessments are carried out by properly trained assessors, rather than the assessments being reduced to a bureaucratic chore for the untrained employee filling in a “self-assessment” form which does little or nothing to protect their health but allows the employer to blame you if you suffer health problems later.
In many cases “self-assessment” has meant no assessment at all, as employees either don’t bother to perform such a futile task or they refuse to do so because they understand the potential consequences.
UNITE members at the Manchester AGM this year agreed a motion “to campaign for the company to appoint and train sufficient competent assessors and to ensure all employees benefit from a proper assessment”.
On 15th April the company sent out a “Site Notice Manchester Campus: Call for Workstation Assessors”, calling for people who are already trained assessors to get in touch and asking for new volunteers to undertake the necessary training.
This is a really important step forward for your health and we encourage members to consider volunteering.

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Unite members across Fujitsu Services Limited in the UK have been taking industrial as part of their dispute over jobs, union recognition, pay and pensions. Action from 28 February has included 15 days of strikes and ongoing action short of strike.

INDUSTRIAL ACTION IS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED while members consider an offer from Fujitsu.

The national dispute follows the resolution of a local dispute in Manchester which included 12 strike days.

Further information is available here including events, pickets, a downloadable appeal for support leaflet and how to donate to our strike fund.

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