Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee (QNJAC): Worker representatives and safety representatives
A key part of the quarry/worksite team
This document has been prepared as guidance relating to the vital role a Safety Representative can play in improving health, safety and welfare for employees at any quarry worksite. Safety Representatives play a key part in reducing accidents and ill health in any workplace.
The QNJAC and HSE actively encourage a team approach to health and safety. It is very important that we encourage worker representatives who will have a vital role, allowing managers to liaise and work much more closely with all members of the workforce.
The involvement of the entire workforce in identifying and controlling risks is crucial to the reduction of accidents and ill health. The Company and all its employees must work together on health and safety issues to benefit everybody, in both human and practical terms.
The difference between providing information to employees, and consulting them, is that consultation involves listening to their views and taking account of what they say before a decision is taken.
Who are safety representatives?
Safety Representatives are practical, experienced members of the workforce. They perform their functions as Safety Representatives in their own workplaces, or they may represent employees at several worksites, or a number of quarries or workplaces.
Roving or Full Time Safety Representatives cover larger geographical areas than permanent elected site safety reps, and/or cover sites with no elected safety representative.
Employers' responsibilities (specific to consultation)
- Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act1974 – Section 15 - Section 2 (4,6&7)
- Quarries Regulations 1999 – Regulation 40
- Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977
- Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regs 1996
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regs 1999, Reg 5, 10
Employers shall permit safety representatives such time off with pay as shall be necessary to undertake their functions under the above regulations and any training required ensuring competence.
Safety representatives' functions
The Quarries Regulations 1999, Reg 40, Main Functions:
Where a committee is appointed for the quarry, the operator of the quarry shall permit two members of the committee to:
- Inspect following a notifiable accident or dangerous occurrence, to ascertain the cause and to take samples of the atmosphere, dust or water;
- Inspect monthly every part of the quarry and any plant / equipment and make and sign a report following the inspection
- During the inspection, scrutinise documents that are required to be held under health and safety law
- During the inspection, review risk assessment and suggest improvements, which the operator must consider and reply with written reasons if they do not accept the improvements
- Be accompanied by their advisers when inspecting
- Post a written report in a conspicuous place for 28 days
- Attendance at safety reps and other company safety committee meetings
- Safety committee minutes to be made available to members
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:
- Health and safety information required to be provided to the employees
- Planning and organisation of health and safety training for employees
- Health and safety consequences of the planning and introduction of new technologies
Information from the employer:
Entitled to inspect and take copies of health and safety documents. This includes:
- Plans and performance affecting health and safety
- Technical information on hazards and precautions, including that provided by consultants, designers, manufacturers, importers or suppliers of any article or substance
- Information on accidents, dangerous occurrences, notifiable industrial diseases, including statistical records
- Results of measurements to monitor health and safety arrangements
- Information on articles and substances issued to home workers
Other functions and good practice
Dealing with employers:
- Make representation on specific and general matters
- Inspect after a change in working conditions
- Inspect after any new information becomes available from HSC or HSE
- Give notice of hazards, normally in writing
- Have access to the employer without delay
- Act as a companion for workers with health and safety grievances in areas with no trade union recognition (Employment Relations Act)
Every employer shall consult safety reps in good time with regard to:
- The introduction of any measure at the workplace which may substantially affect the health, safety and welfare of the employees
- The arrangements for appointing or nominating health and safety competent persons
Liaison with enforcement officers:
- Represent employees in consultation with the enforcing authorities
- Receive information from inspectors
The employer should make available information:
- Necessary to enable reps to participate fully and effectively in consultation and to carry out their functions
- Provide information about reportable injuries and dangerous occurrences.
Election of safety representatives
Under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 elections shall be from within the recognised trade unions membership, in workplaces with a recognition agreement. All safety representatives will work within the union's committee structure.
Safety reps are not liable in the civil or criminal courts for anything they do or don't do in performing their functions as safety reps. However, as employees, worker/safety reps have the same duties as other employees under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and Regulation 14 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Reps should not suffer any detriment from exercising the right to withdraw from situations of serious and imminent danger, as for individual employees.
Reps should not suffer detriment for ' whistle-blowing ' on health and safety.