The most effective tool that we have in ensuring good health and safety at work is trade unions, because organised workplaces are safer workplaces.
Evidence shows that workplaces with union safety reps and joint union-management safety committees have major injury rates less than half of those without. Unions make a difference. We reduce injuries, improve ill-health and help change the safety culture within an organisation. At the core of this are safety representatives.
Safety reps' rights and functions include a legal right to:
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 the "Brown Book" for training purposes (PDF).
To help safety representatives undertake their role there are a considerable number of resources available from the TUC. The HSE also has some useful pages, including forms to use with inspections and for reporting injuries or incidents and a form for reporting issues that the employer refuses to address.
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Being a Health and Safety Representative - A simple guide to what the role means
"Brown Book" Safety representatives and safety committees (PDF) - This booklet also lists all other health and safety legislation that requires employers to consult with employees or safety representatives.
The union effect - How unions make a difference on health and safety
Reporting issues to the HSE (safety reps only)
Hazards Magazine - Hazards looks behind the company safety hype, and gives union answers to workplace problems.
Order Hazards at Work. A invaluable tool for all union health and safety representatives