GMB’s Five Tests - Make Work Safe

Every employer seeking to re-open and implement return to work arrangements must meet GMB’s 5 tests: 

1. Consult with the workforce and their union – GMB

Any arrangements to re-open a workplace need to be discussed and agreed with GMB reps in that workplace. Employers have a legal duty to consult on all health and safety matters and returning to work after the Coronavirus lockdown is no exception.

All consultations must be based around risk assessments and safe systems of work.

2.  Enable working from home wherever possible

The instruction of the UK government is where a worker can work from home that they should do so. Restricting the number of people returning to a workplace helps maintain safe working practices and protects potentially vulnerable people.

GMB union reps should ensure that anyone who can work from home does so and that the employer finds ways (by providing additional equipment or changing the nature of the work) to enable as many workers as possible to do so. 

3. Protect and support for vulnerable and at-risk groups

Workers who need to shield to protect either themselves or family members must be considered as part of the return to work arrangements. Likewise, certain groups of workers may be at higher risk of infection including BME workers and disabled workers.

Arrangements must ensure that vulnerable groups are protected and that vulnerable workers are not forced into work either through employer instruction or economic necessity.  
Where appropriate, employers should carry out equality impact assessments too – especially where some workers will have additional child or elder care responsibilities as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

4. Secure safe transport to work and on-site

Where possible workers should drive, cycle or walk to work. Employers must ensure that workers can get to and from work safely, whilst maintaining social distancing protocols.

This may mean that a number of measures need to be considered, including: staggered start and finish times, start and finish times at atypical times to allow for travel on public transport when it is less busy, reduced number of workers in attendance at any one time, etc. Access and transport on site must be made safe. 

5. Ensure systems of work are safe - with enough PPE for everyone who needs it 

Workers need to be able to work in an environment where social distancing protocols are maintained or where this is absolutely impossible to maintain that adequate control measures are put in place. Safe systems of work and control measures must be risk assessed and union representatives consulted.

Where PPE is deemed necessary by risk assessment, an adequate supply and quality of protective equipment must be maintained.

Union representatives should regularly review these arrangements and inspect the workplace to ensure the arrangements are being adhered to – this will vary from workplace to workplace – for some it may be weekly and others daily. 

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