The most important tools that UNISON has to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our members are our safety representatives, safety officers and safety committees.
Health and safety has been identified in many surveys as the single most important issue for our members, and potential members. If we are seen to be active and effective in health and safety, this will be an important aid to the recruitment and retention of members, as well as contributing to one of the main aims of our union —making sure our members are safe and healthy at work.
Why is health and safety a union issue?
Health and safety is a prime activity for UNISON and workplace health and safety is no different from other issues that UNISON fights for, like better wages or equality of treatment. Workers should have a work environment that will not rob them of their health, their limbs or their lives.
To find out more about H&S Organising at work please our guide Safety in Numbers (below).
The Value of Safety Reps
The “Safety Rep” is the communication link between the trade union, its members and the management in the workplace.
They have rights under H&S legislation and they are the Union’s visible day to day presence on matters that concern our members
- Highly motivated, highly trained, technically experienced and influential.
- They are also good communicators, empathetic, have a sense of “fairness and the patience to see the job through
- Part of the branches organising structure should involve the Branch safety Officer and a network of safety reps but many branches find it hard to find to recruit safety reps
- Being a health and safety (H&S) rep enables you to play a key role in helping members at work. The law gives you specific rights and a role, but you have no legal duties or responsibilities beyond that of any other employee.
- consult with and represent members,
- are consulted by and may discuss issues with employers,
- carry out inspections and investigations,
- get time and other facilities during work time both for their role and to get trained,
- can play an important role in getting other members active or signing up new members.
If you are interested and want to find out more about becoming a safety rep – speak to someone in your branch – like your Branch H&S Officer or Branch Secretary or contact UNISON Direct on 0800 0 857 857
If you want to find out more about the role please see our guide Health and safety – The Basics (below).