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Safety Reps – Workers' Memorial Day – 40 year anniversary of Safety Reps and safety committees Regs 1977

It is forty years since the role of the Trade Union Safety Representative was enshrined in UK law, so what better time to reflect on the valuable contribution safety representatives make to ensuring that our workplaces remain amongst the most safe and healthy in the world.

Safety Representatives provide a critical link between workers and managers  on what is actually happening at the sharp end of any work activity.  They are the first port of call for colleagues who have concerns about working practices and an important source of information for managers seeking improvement in their health and safety performance. Over the years, safety representatives have played a significant part in a range of performance improvement initiatives which HSE has either led or supported.  The advantages of joint endeavour have been shown time and again:  when employers and safety representatives work well together everyone benefits. 

Specific examples

Safety Representatives made significant contributions throughout both the creation and delivery of the Do Your Bit campaign (links to the National Archives), including working with HSE on the format and content of joint safety representative and manager training modules and good practice case studies.

Safety representatives and managers from Merseytravel, worked with HSE and a film unit of Edge Hill University students, to create a video case study. This vividly demonstrates how engaging effectively with safety representatives, listening to what they say and acting on it, can not only improve health and safety performance, but also build mutual trust and create wider business benefits.

Across many sectors, safety representatives contribute to a wide range of initiatives to improve health and safety performance.  In the Waste & Recycling industry, a working group of safety representatives, chaired by the TUC and with support from HSE, is working on a good practice guide for worker involvement in the industry and expects soon to produce a tool, to be promoted through the Waste Industry Safety & Health forum (WISH).  

Watch out for further examples which we will be publishing on our website, including:

For more information on safety representatives and worker consultation, visit our worker involvement pages.

Updated 2021-03-04