Health and safety is a top reason people join unions and people stay in unions. Health and safety is a particularly effective organising tool.

A TUC has found, 70 per cent of new trade union members considered health and safety a 'very important' union issue - more than even for pay.

And union workplaces are safer workplaces. Unions have on the ground knowledge that can lead to quick and easy solutions to workplace health and safety. Where employers won’t negotiate in good faith, unions cans use their collective strength to demand improvements.

It is only when a union safety rep has the support of an informed and involved membership that they can effectively secure improvements and be a part of the process of organising their workplace. By encouraging members to participate, much more can be achieved than if members expect the union to “sort things out”.

This means:
· Involving members in identifying issues, finding solutions and dealing with problems;
· increasing the number of confident, trained health and safety representatives;
· working together rather than leaving it to the union;
· improving negotiating strength; and
· dealing with problems early, when they are manageable, rather than leaving them to get worse.

A good example of involving workers is by conducting risk or body mapping exercises. These exercises enable members to discover for themselves what is hurting them or what is dangerous at work and involves them in the process of remedying the problem.

One of the best tools that a union representative can use to help them organise is the UnionReps site. It is also available as a mobile app

Links

Organising for Health & Safety: A TUC resource for use in the workplace.

TUC organising eNote

TUC report on the union effect

Hazards union effect webpages

HSE workers webpage

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