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HSE opens up anonymous hotline for workers

Whistleblowers can now report COVID-19 concerns directly to watchdog, rather than via management.
16 April 2020 , Katie Coyne

Workers can now anonymously report workplace safety concerns related to COVID-19 to the Health and Safety Executive.

Safety campaigners are worried that workers who whistleblow can face discrimination or blacklisting and have urged the HSE to set up an anonymous reporting line.

The Hazards Campaign argued that a large section of workers who are vulnerable due to precarious contracts will simply not report concerns if they have to be named.

EHN Extra has seen a message from HSE to the Hazards Campaign that says workers should try to resolve issues with management before reporting a problem to the watchdog. However, this approach has now changed.

HSE said in a statement: “We do accept anonymous concerns, although understandably there may be challenges when seeking to clarify the facts of the concern which could impact on our ability to follow it up.”

HSE advises concerned workers to report using the online form. It also says that they don’t have to fill in their name and contact details. Alternatively, they can call 0300 003 1647 and an officer will take them through the form over the phone – but again they do not have to disclose their name and contact details.

The watchdog has said it will respect the anonymity of those reporting issues.

Hazards Campaign spokesperson Janet Newsham said: “I am a bit sceptical based on the response that we were given but if they have changed that decision, perhaps due to campaign pressure, that would be welcome.

“Lots of workers are in vulnerable roles and under a lot of pressure to be in work. They are unable to challenge their employers for fear of losing their jobs, or not getting another contract, so this would be a way of getting outside help in situations where they feel they are at risk.”

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