Safety Representatives

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Activist Resources

This is a guide for union representatives on the Government's
The TUC has published guidance for workplace representatives on behavioural
The TUC has produced a new resource for use by

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 (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 the "Brown Book" for training purposes (PDF).

To help safety representatives undertake their role there are a considerable number of resources available.


The Union Effect

Reporting issues to the HSE (safety reps only)

Hazards safety reps training and time off briefing

Hazards union effect webpages

Safety reps profile – what makes them tick

Health and Safety Inspections: A TUC Guide (PDF)

HSE safety reps page

TUC Union reps website


Organising for Health and Safety: A TUC Resource for use in the workplace (PDF)

Unions are a life-saving, money-saving success For every £1 spent on paid time off for public sector union reps to represent their members, taxpayers get at least £2.31 back in savings, according to a new study published by the TUC. The safety contribution is even more stunning - half of...
26 February 2016
Government takes a swipe at safety reps The government’s Trade Union Bill will damage more than productivity and civil liberties, it could put our lives at risk at work, the TUC has warned. The union body said the Bill includes measures that could dramatically curtail the time available to union...
24 July 2015
This is a guide for union representatives on the Government's referral service for those who are off work through sickness.
12 January 2015
Information on how union health and safety representatives can contact the HSE.
01 September 2014
Full details of Wales TUC training courses for all reps from September 2014 to July 2015.
28 May 2014
A union presence has a strong positive effect on the health of the workforce and the economy, a Europe-wide study has found.
09 August 2013
Union safety reps should take time out for training to make sure they maximise their effectiveness, the TUC has advised.
22 February 2013
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.
09 November 2012
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.
05 July 2012
A major energy firm is working with Unite to encourage union safety reps to take a bigger workplace health and safety role.
13 January 2012