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Safety partnership

19 February 2001 - The TUC claims that 20,000 major workplace injuries a year could be prevented, and a third of a million days sickness absence avoided if more businesses and unions took a partnership approach to issues of health and safety.

The TUC report, Joining up health and safety: Creating partners in prevention, cites the example of one company that recently adopted a partnership approach to safety and recorded savings of £2.5 million. In another firm accident rates were reduced by by 55%.

Currently there are 20 safety partnership agreements across the UK, covering large and small organizations but the TUC is committed to achieving 40 partners in prevention agreements by the end of next year. The first safety partnerships were announced last year with agreements covering organisations such as Legal & General and white collar union MSF, Tesco and shopworkers union USDAW, and refuse collectors SITA GB and the GMB.

Recent partnership agreements include: Yorkshire chemicals company, Hickson & Welch and the T&G; GlaxoWellcome and MSF; and South West Water, and unions, the AEEU, GMB and the T&G.

Others involve Carlisle-based Cavaghan and Gray (part of Northern Foods) and USDAW; Harrow-based Kodak Ltd and AEEU, MSF and TGWU; Scottish Power, alongside the AEEU, the EMA, GMB and UNISON; the Post Office Group and the Communication Workers Union; the St Regis Paper Company and four unions (the GPMU, the A EEU, MSF and the T&G); and the rail industryís confidential i ncident reporting system (CIRAS), with ASLEF, the RMT and TSSA.

According to TUC General Secretary John Monks: 'Tragedies on the railways and in construction show that where partnerships donít exist, it is vital that we introduce them. Partnership is about revitalising health and safety - breathing life into the relationship between employers and workers, and the case studies we are highlighting today demonstrate that everybody benefits. Partnerships mean fewer injuries, fewer illnesses and fewer days off work.'

Minister for Competitiveness, Alan Johnson MP said: 'The government recognises the importance of partnership and we have placed it at the heart of our employment relations strategy. Employers and employees working together, in partnership, to develop health and safety policy within the workplace is an ideal way to achieve better standards and promote best practice.'

In January of this year the TUC launched, its new consultancy, the Partnership Institute, aimed at changing the way in which unions and employers work. The new partnership consultancy is headed by Director, Sarah Perman and has 26 consultants - all experts with human resources, trade union or management backgrounds.

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