Over the Christmas period, we have to keep the machines rolling, but staff are cut to a minimum and I am worried about safety. Am I right to be worried and what should I do about it?

Yes, you are right to be worried about it. Accidents don't take a holiday at Christmas, in fact it’s their chance for a bit of overtime.

Cutting staff numbers (or significantly changing shift patterns) is a change to the way of working and therefore your employer should carry out a fresh risk assessment which takes into account the changes. The risk assessment should, amongst other things, look at:

  • what is the safe number of people who should cover the shift (and why);
  • what kind and level of supervision is required (and why); and
  • whether the emergency procedures have been amended, and the staff trained or informed of the changes.

You have a right to ask for a copy of the risk assessment. If you have any concerns after this, or your employer has not (or will not) do a risk assessment, raise this with your employer or contact your union rep. If you are not in a union, contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in confidence.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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