Legal Article - Employment Law

Trade Union Safety Representatives

Again where an independent Trade Union is recognised by an employer, if an employee is appointed by their union as a safety representative, they are entitled to be given reasonable time off from work to carry out their functions and to undergo relevant training.

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 it is the duty of employers to consult with these representatives about making suitable arrangements to co-operate effectively in promoting and developing means to ensure the health and safety at work of employees.

In particular, under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1992 consultation must take place on the following:

a) The introduction of measures in the workplace substantially affecting health and safety of employees

b) Arrangements for the appointment of “competent” persons as defined under the 1992 Regulations

c) Planning and organisation of health and safety training

d) Provisions of health and safety information and,

e) Health and safety implications of new technology.

Under the 1974 Act safety representatives have the following functions to perform:

a) To investigate potential hazards and dangerous occurrences at the workplace (whether or not they are drawn to their attention by the employees they represent) and to examine the causes of accidents at the workplace

b) To investigate complaints by an employee they represent relating to the employee’s health, safety and welfare at work

c) To make representations to the employer on matters arising out of subparagraphs (a) and (b) above

d) To make representations to the employer on general matters affecting the health, safety and welfare at work of the employees at the workplace

e) To carry out inspections of the workplace and of documents in accordance with the provisions detailed below

f) To represent the employees they were appointed to represent in consultations at the workplace with inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive and of any other enforcing authority

g) To receive information from inspectors on matters affecting the employees’ health, safety and welfare; and

h) To attend meetings of safety committees where they attend in their capacity as safety representatives in connection with any of the above functions.

An employer must establish a Safety Committee within three months of receiving a request in writing from at least two safety representatives and must post a notice stating the composition of the Committee and the workplace to be covered by it in a place where it may be easily read by the employees.

Published: 03 Jun 2011


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