Health and Safety and Organising - A guide for reps

Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
24 Feb 2016

An effective union needs two things: the first is a strong membership within the workplace; the second is high membership involvement. By encouraging members to participate, much more can be achieved than if members expect the union to ‘sort things out’.

This resource will make you more effective on the ground – where real gains can be made – and help create a greater culture of safety in your workplace.

You can do this by:

  • involving members in identifying issues, finding solutions and dealing with problems
  • increasing the number of confident, trained health and safety representatives who are representative of the workplace they come from
  • dealing with problems early, when they are manageable, rather than leaving them to get worse
  • improving negotiating strength.

We know that union health and safety representatives make a difference in the workplace: those with union representatives and joint safety committees have half the major injury rate of those without. Health and safety is one of the main reasons that people join a trade union. Over two million people have an injury or illness that was caused or made worse from work and more than 28 million working days are lost every year as a result of work-related injuries and ill health. The HSE estimates the cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions to be £14.2bn, but of course the human cost is much greater.

There is a lot to be done and, of course, if there are a number of union representatives in your workplace you can work together to get the most out of any organising campaigning.