Union safety reps have a dramatic, positive impact on safety at work – and the more training they get, the safer the workplace. Evidence shows that workplaces with union safety reps and joint union-management safety committees have major injury rates less than half of those without.
Safety reps’ rights and functions include a legal right to: Represent employees in discussions with the employer on health, safety or welfare and in discussions with HSE or other enforcing authorities; investigate hazards and dangerous occurrences; investigate complaints; carry out inspections of the workplace and inspect relevant documents; attend safety committees; be paid for time spent on carrying out their functions, and to undergo training.
Safety reps in union recognised workplaces have the legal right to paid time off for union approved safety training. HSE’s evaluation of the impact of safety reps training found the more training a safety rep underwent, the greater the positive impact at work.
It has been repeatedly demonstrated in studies from a range of countries that worker activity, with union support behind it, is a major factor in reducing injuries and disease at work. Statistics show that better standards of health and safety are achieved in unionised workplaces than in similar non-unionised ones. At the core of this are Safety Representatives. The TUC has produced a report which shows how safety representatives make a difference in practice and how shortcomings in the present regulations limit their effectiveness. It also makes proposals for improving the effectiveness of safety representatives (Charter for change)http://www.tuc.org.uk/h_and_s/tuc-15491-f0.cfm or download pdf version from http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/safetyrepscharter.pdf
The legal rights of safety Representatives can be found in the "Brown Book" which is the regulations, code of practice and guidance on safety representatives. The TUC has produced a version of this for training purposes which can be downloaded here [pdf].
To help safety representatives undertake their role there are a considerable number of resources available.
The most recent documents available on this subject are:Take your time off for training
Union safety reps should take time out for training to make sure they maximise their effectiveness, the TUC has advised.PDF version available for download
This is the tenth biennial TUC safety representatives' survey. It is designed to provide the TUC and its affiliated trade unions with valuable information to help shape safety campaigning and organisation in the period ahead.
The TUC today (Thursday) called for a change of direction from the government after statistics on deaths at work showed that the rate had remained the same for a second year.
A major energy firm is working with Unite to encourage union safety reps to take a bigger workplace health and safety role.PDF version available for download
The prime minister's threat to remove funding for the time public sector union reps take to do their union work ignores the life- and cash-saving role these reps play, the TUC has said.PDF version available for download
Offshore workers' union RMT has criticised oil companies for 'fundamentally failing' to involve workers in health and safety matters on rigs and has demanded improvements.PDF version available for download
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printed 25 May 2013 at 08:41 hrs by 18.104.22.168