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The 23rd annual Scottish Hazards Conference

Gordon Finlayson, PDA National Executive member for Scotland & Northern Ireland and a PDA Rep at Boots attended the 23rd annual Scottish Hazards Conference 2024 in Glasgow on 29 February 2024. Gordon has shared his experience of the day and an insight into the workshops he took part in during the conference.

Sat 23rd March 2024 The PDA

Health and safety reps play an important role in ensuring that all employees work in a safe workplace. It has been shown that employees who work in a unionised workplace typically work in a safer environment and have a reduced chance of suffering a workplace injury compared to those in non-unionised workplaces.

All PDA Reps in Boots are now health and safety reps. It is a role that requires training and the support of others. Within the PDA Union we have a wide range of experience and support but to expand my knowledge and confidence I joined the Scottish Trade Union Congress’ (STUC) Scottish Hazards Health and Safety Rep Network. This network has given me the opportunity to learn from other, more experienced, health and safety reps. It is a group that is an excellent place to share experiences and learning points.

Scottish Hazards is a charity organisation that provides health and safety advice and support to workers in non-unionised workplaces. Scottish Hazards work closely with the STUC to improve the safety culture for all workers and they provide free and confidential information, advice, support and training to workers on workplace health and safety issues.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, Scottish Hazards organised its 23rd Annual Conference in Glasgow on 29 February 2024. I decided that this was too good of an opportunity to miss and in my own time attended the conference to represent the PDA Union. The day in equal measures was: fascinating in terms of the way workers are still treated, engaging in terms of all the people I met on the day, and educational thanks to the workshops that Scottish Hazards organised.

I attended a workshop led by Ian Tasker, CEO of Scottish Hazards on Health and Safety Rep Rights. It has been 50 years since the Health and Safety at Work Act came into being and the framework this set up is still in place today and preserved the powerful rights that health and safety reps have. It certainly made me assess what I am doing as a rep and what I could be doing!

In the afternoon I attended a workshop led by Mairi Gaffney from Scottish Occupational Health Action Group. Mairi discussed examples of good and bad occupational health reports. Questions were raised around the independence of the companies providing these services, after all it is the employer who is paying the provider. Mairi provided some tips to the reps and the most startling of these was to always check that the employer has discussed the report with the employee. It seems unbelievable that this does not happen, but seemingly is not uncommon.

Being a PDA Rep involves a lot of different things and being a health and safety rep can, at times, be difficult but ultimately a rewarding role that supports colleagues. I would encourage anyone who would like to be a rep to contact the PDA and start your journey.

Thanks to everyone at Scottish Hazards and Unison, Glasgow for a great day, looking forward to seeing you all next year!

Pictured at the conference are Gordon Finlayson and Scott Donohoe, the Chair of Scottish Hazards.

By Gordon Finlayson, PDA National Executive member for Scotland & Northern Ireland and a PDA Rep at Boots

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