Why are Health & Safety Reps important

UNISON members believe Health and Safety is the most important issue at work. Health and Safety can be a matter of life and death. Many of our members know what it's like to experience stress, violence or accidents and injuries at work. Tackling Health and Safety is also a very good way of organising in the workplace. What do Health and Safety reps do? Everybody who works has basic rights, which include things like sufficient space to work in, clean and well-lit workplaces and safe working practices. Health and Safety reps work to make the workplace as safe as possible.  

They can:

  • Make representations to the employer on behalf of members on any health, safety and welfare matter
  • Represent members in consultation with Health and Safety Executive inspectors or other enforcing authorities
  • Inspect designated workplace areas
  • Investigate any potential hazards, complaints by members and causes of accidents, dangerous occurrences and diseases  

Employers are obliged by law to carry out risk assessments which identify dangers in the workplace and look at how likely they are to cause harm. Health and Safety reps can help make sure this happens.

 

What rights do health and safety reps have?

Health and Safety reps have important legal rights, including the right to:  

  • Paid time off to carry out the role and undergo either TUC or union-approved training
  • Raise issues with the employer that affect the health and safety of members
  • Facilities and support from the employer to carry out inspections
  • To receive legal and technical information from the employer

How do I become a Health and Safety rep?

Like stewards, safety reps are chosen by union members. They are not appointed by the employer. Contact the Branch Health and Safety Officer (Maggi Myland) for more information.

Where do I go for advice and support?

Our Branch Health and Safety Officer is always the first place to go who will be able to give prompt advice and guidance. Guidance is also available from regional offices via your Branch Secretary.

Do I get any training? 

YES. UNISON provides special introductory and follow up courses for Health and Safety reps. Contact the Branch to find out when and where the next training courses will be held.