Members often fail to complete Accident Book entries, or report incidents, including near misses, to either their managers or to local union health and safety representatives.
By doing this, they are storing up problems for other workers, making the job of keeping staff safe harder for union reps and managers and may even be breaking the law.
Employers and risk assessments
Employers have a legal duty to safeguard the safety and health at work of all their employees.
Part of this requires them to assess the hazards and risks that their workers are exposed to and to ensure that they have placed adequate precautions in place.
These risk assessments have to be revised at any time when evidence suggests that they are no longer valid.
Reports of incidents, where there was a potential injury, even if no actual or serious injury occurred, could highlight deficiencies in the risk assessments that the employer has to remedy.
Safety reps do a valuable job in reducing accidents and injuries at work - independent surveys have found that the accident rate in workplaces where there are safety reps who are consulted properly by management can be as much as 50% less than workplaces with no safety reps.
But, to be effective, they need to know what is going on. They have a legal right to inspect the workplace, on a quarterly basis, but they also need to be told when incidents happen.
If members put details into Accident Books, the rep can see what has been going on in the workplace over the preceding three months when they start their inspections.
Legal duty on employees
Under the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, employees have a legal duty to inform the employer of any work situation that they consider represents a serious and imminent danger to health and safety and, in addition, of any matter which they think represents a shortcoming in the employer's protection arrangements for health and safety.
So, if you know that something is a risk to safety, you must tell your employer (via your line manager) or bring it to the attention of your local PCS safety rep, who can follow the matter up with management.