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Safety Nudges

Consultation with Employees

Published by Safety Net Team

June 15, 2023

Summary

Effective safety management is enhanced by using the experience, feedback and involvement of the workforce. This is a legal requirement. The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 set the requirements and provisions for the appointment of union safety representatives. Similar requirements are set for the election of representatives of employee safety for non-unionised workforces under the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996.

As this topic describes, effective consultation can make a significant contribution to a positive health and safety culture within the workplace. A proactive approach will assist in meeting legal requirements and can reduce accidents and increase efficiency.

Employers’ Duties

  • Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974, the employer is required to consult any safety representative appointed by a recognised independent trade union. The Act also places a duty on the employer to establish a safety committee, if requested to do so by at least two safety representatives in writing.
  • Under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, as amended by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers must consult any recognised trade union safety representative on health and safety arrangements. This same requirement applies to consultation with ROES under the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996. Employers should consult safety representatives and ROES “in good time” on:
    • the introduction of any measure that will affect the health and safety of employees
    • arrangements for appointing persons to assist the employer in complying with legislation, and to assist in emergency procedures
    • the provision of information as required under health and safety legislation
    • any planning and organisation of training required to be provided to employees under health and safety legislation
    • the health and safety consequences of introducing new technologies into the employees’ workplace.
  • Under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, as amended by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers must permit the representative time off with pay to carry out their functions and to receive reasonable training to carry out these functions.
  • In non-unionised workplaces, the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 require employers to consult with employees directly, or through nominated representatives of employee safety, on arrangements for health and safety. This includes:
    • supplying any information representatives might need to participate in consultation
    • providing appropriate and reasonable training to representatives
    • giving paid time off for representatives to perform their functions and attend training.

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