Workplace Report February 2021

Health & safety news

FBU accuses employers over Covid safety

The FBU firefighters’ union and the TUC called on the fire service National Employers to get back around the table after unilaterally scrapping a “ground-breaking” agreement that enabled firefighters to assist the NHS and care sector respond to Covid-19.

The previously-agreed safety arrangements protected firefighters undertaking additional work. Firefighters were required to submit a negative Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before returning to their fire station on normal duties. This would protect the service from outbreaks by removing the risk of cross contamination. The union said the employers’ move means there are now no national protections for firefighters delivering Covid duties.

“This irresponsible move from fire and rescue service employers threatens to endanger the lives of firefighters, their families and the public,” said FBU general secretary Matt Wrack. He accused employers of beginning “a race to the bottom on safety, abdicating their responsibility to keep their staff safe, and services protected from mass outbreaks”.