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Worker consultation – enforcement of Regulations

Summary

This Operational Guidance (OG) explains the actions available to inspectors to improve worker consultation in the workplace, including enforcement action under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (SRSCR 1977) and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 HSCER 1996). It replaces the Worker Consultation and Involvement, Enforcement of Consultation Regulations Topic Pack (June 2011).

Introduction

Consulting workers is an important part of managing  health and safety  in the workplace.

Evidence suggests that accident rates in workplaces where employees genuinely feel they have a say in health and safety matters are approximately half of those in workplaces where employees are not involved *.

Effective consultation leads to:  

In the long term consultation can lead to greater co-operation, trust, joint problem solving and an improved health and safety culture.

Employers may consult their employees through informal (more common in small businesses) as well as formal arrangements. Where trade unions are not recognised, employers may choose to consult the workforce directly rather than through a Representative of Employee Safety (RoES).

* Source: HSE Fit3 (Fit for Work, Fit for Life, Fit for Tomorrow) employer and employee surveys 2005/06 and Nichols T, Walters D and Tasiran AC (2007) Journal of Industrial Relations; 49: 211-225

Action

At interventions, inspectors should

All concerns received about non-compliance with the worker consultation requirements should be dealt with according to the Concerns Handling Procedure (The Procedure is currently in revision).

Background

The principal requirements for employees to be consulted are contained in:

The following also relate to employee consultation:

[The Mines & Quarries Act 1954 has been replaced by the Mines Regulations 2014, and is therefore excluded (re s 123). Mines legislation will rely on the SRSCR]

The law gives both elected and appointed safety representatives the right to represent the views of employees in consultations at the workplace with inspectors.

In workplaces where some employees are members of recognised trade unions and others are not, consultation may be according to both SRSCR and HSCER. Trade union safety representatives may act for all workers, regardless of union membership/recognition.

Both sets of Regulations require employers to provide relevant information to representatives or the workforce to enable effective consultation.

Organisation

No specific organisational requirements.

Further References

Contacts

FOD Legal and Enforcement Team.

Appendices

Updated 2017-02-05