More action needed to protect Black care staff, says Unison

Unison has called on care providers to provide up-to-date risk assessments to protect the health and lives of Black workers as coronavirus infections rise again.

Research published today by the trade union claims more than half of Black staff working in the NHS, care homes and schools were not given Covid-19 risk assessments, even after the height of the pandemic.

And more than a third (35%) of those who had gone through the process to identify the hazards staff face and decide if the risks to health are too great for workers to be in those roles said they felt they didn’t identify the unique threats Black workers face.

In June, Public Health England published a report, which warned people from ethnic minorities are at a higher risk of dying from coronavirus.

But nearly four out of five workers (79%) reported that they hadn’t had a conversation with their manager about the workplace Covid risk, leaving staff anxious and scared.

Underlying health conditions and older age – two factors associated with increased likelihood of Covid-19 deaths – were high among Black staff who took part.

One in three (31%) reported having an underlying health condition.

More than two fifths (45%) were 50 years old or more, and 30% were between 40 and 49, putting them in the age categories ​more at risk from ​the disease, according to Unison.

The survey also found that more than two-thirds (67%) of workers said they needed PPE to keep safe at work, but only half reported being issued with the correct level of kit.

‘Lives depend on employers doing more than the bare minimum to keep staff safe,’ said Unison’s head of equality, Gloria Mills.

‘Mandatory, robust risk assessments need to be in place. They should be policed by the Health and Safety Executive and rogue employers named and shamed.

‘The stakes are too high for employers to get this wrong. As we see Covid infections rising once again, managers must commit to listening to staff and making changes that will protect health and save lives.’

Photo Credit – OrnaW (Pixabay)

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