HS2 social distancing helmets warning

Social distancing helmets for HS2 must not result in workers being disciplined, warns Unite

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Unite has warned that hi tech hard hats which sound a warning when workers come within two metres of each other, should not be used as a disciplinary tool but as an education device.

Unite issued its warning after it was announced that the joint venture company Eiffage Kier Ferrovial Bam, who are responsible for the central section of phase one of the HS2 development, had purchased 1,500 of the helmets.

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said, “Insuring social distancing on site is absolutely vital to helping prevent the spread of Covid-19 and Unite welcomes the introduction of these hard hats provided strict rules about how the information they generate is followed.

“Ensuring social distancing is about educating the workforce and for that to be a success then it needs to be enshrined that the information recorded from the helmets will never be used to discipline or dismiss a worker,” he added.

“It is human nature to interact with fellow colleagues at close quarters and these helmets, if used properly, will help to educate workers to maintain social distancing and act as a reminder when they come too close to each other,” Swain continued.

“It would be entirely counterproductive if workers feared being disciplined or dismissed if the alarm was triggered particularly as it would be impossible to find out exactly which worker had inadvertently strayed too close to someone else.”

Unite will be seeking a meeting with the joint venture company about how the helmets will be used and hoping to receive reassurances that they will not be used for disciplinary purposes.

The union will also be seeking guarantees that the joint venture company is complying with GDPR rules and that personal and private information about a worker cannot and will not be disclosed while they are in possession of the hard hat – especially as this could potentially include information being recorded outside the workplace.

By Barckley Sumner

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