Cardiff University as our employer owes us a duty of care. To challenge them when they are failing to take the necessary steps to protect our health and safety, we need to collect evidence. This is a precursor to taking any form of legal action. We also need to comply with the University’s own procedures. Should legal action follow, the legal authorities will expect individuals to have fully exhausted these procedures.
On that basis should you be asked to return to work, your employer will be required to perform a risk assessment. However, their assessment of the circumstances may differ from yours. So the first step is to perform your own assessment of your working environment. If your assessment differs from the employers in that you have concerns regarding your health and safety, you should bring it to the attention of the appropriate person. In most cases this will be your line manager, but there may be instances where management have appointed a safety officer.
It is helpful if you use the forms provided by the University. The University also requires you to complete the All Wales Risk Assessment. Arbitration bodies will look kindly if you have used the employer’s procedures. It shows you are willing to support the employer, by following their guidance. It also focuses the matter on the dispute in hand, rather than obfuscating procedural matters.
- HSE Health and Safety Poster (which should be displayed in a prominent visible place)
- Risk Assessment forms
- Workplace Inspection forms
Your line manager may have already completed a workplace inspection form. There is usually a nominated person, within an office, to complete this for efficiency. It would be quite acceptable to ask if this has been done, and could you have sight of the document to ascertain if your concerns have been highlighted, and what priority has been assigned to them. If you are not given sight of the document, do not assume it has been done, it probably hasn’t been done well, if at all. Your line manager is busy “spinning plates” too.
If you have to email your line manager, please use the following wording. If we all use the same or similar wording then this reduces the risk of individuals being isolated. Senior management will identify it as a collective action and will wish to identify the organisers, which is the union, and that is where they will focus their efforts.
‘I am very concerned about the suggestion that I return to on-site work activities without knowing all suitable and sufficient risk management controls are in place making it safe to return. My union, UCU, will be advising me of the outcome of collective consultations over any proposed risk management strategy Cardiff University may have. I therefore request that this consultation takes place with UCU prior to any consultation with me individually
If, despite my concerns, you insist I return to work please find a Risk Assessment/Workplace Inspection Form, highlighting my concerns and suggestions on actions required to enable me to conduct my work without significant risks to my Health and Safety.
I would appreciate a response prior to my return to campus, so that I can take responsibility and appropriate steps for my own safety as required’