Health and Safety

Health and Safety

To be effective in our fight for safe working conditions we need people in every workplace to act as advisors and watchdogs on health and safety issues. You’ll get full training and support from UNISON as well as paid time off from your employer to carry out your union role. Check out more information on the UNISON UK site. Click here for the latest branch Health and Safety resources

Why are health and 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 at least every three months
  • 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 employers 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. Please contact the Branch Health and Safety Officer if you are interested.

Once a safety rep is appointed, the employer must be notified in writing of that appointment. Click here for a Health and Safety Rep Nomination Form (pdf)

Where do I go for advice and support?

The Branch Office is always the first place to go. Health and safety reps will give prompt advice and guidance.

Do I get any training?

UNISON provides special introductory and follow up courses for health and safety reps. Contact the Branch Office to find out when and where the next training course will be held.

Where can I find useful information and resources?

Go to Health and Safety Resources on the UNISON national website.

UNISON’s employment advice website offers useful health and safety information for ordinary members.

How many health and safety reps are needed?

UNISON aims to have at least one health and safety rep in every workplace where we have members. In some cases the safety rep and steward are the same person but they have two separate roles.

How can I get more involved in UNISON health and safety?

Contact the Branch Office on 558 7488 or click here to email us if you are interested in becoming a workplace health and safety rep.