Safety reps credited for improvements
Union safety representatives have been crucial to securing improvements in health and safety, the government’s health and safety minister said at an anniversary celebration of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations.
Last month, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched new guidance on worker involvement in health and safety, as well as updated guidance on the regulations that govern safety reps’ activities.
Lord McKenzie, the government minister for health and safety said that union safety reps could take credit for improvements over the last thirty years since the regulations came into force. “There is evidence that workplaces with health and safety committees where some members are selected by trade unions have a significantly lower rate of injuries than those without cooperative health and safety management,” he said.
Since the Health and Safety at Work Act came into force, the number of serious but non-fatal injuries reported has fallen by 70%, workplace deaths have fallen by 76% and an estimated 5,000 deaths have been prevented, the minister added.
The minister pointed to a HSE report published last year that demonstrated how health and safety reps from general union Unite were effective in improving the control of musculoskeletal disorders in their workplace. “It is an impressive example, from which other workplaces could learn,” he said.