Membership of your H&S committee
There is no correct number of committee members because the circumstances will vary from business to business. How many management and employee representatives you have on your committee will depend on the size and spread of your business and the types of work done.
Generally speaking, committee members can include:
- management representatives who have the authority to give proper consideration to views and recommendations;
- employee representatives, either appointed by a trade union, elected by your workforce, or a combination of both, who have knowledge of the work of those they represent;
- representatives of others in the workplace such as contractors; and
- co-opted workers and others - people who are included because of their specific competences such as the company doctor, health and safety adviser, and other specialists.
For larger businesses, you may need a health and safety committee at the group or company level, especially if decisions are taken at this higher level. This does not mean that you have to duplicate committees for the same workplace, but a single committee may be too large and impractical, or a small one may be too remote. In practice, you may have to set up several committees with arrangements for co-ordination between them.
It is good practice for management representatives to include:
- the person responsible for health and safety in the business; and
- a representative from the most senior level of management possible, such as a board member, to show commitment and leadership.
- Involve a variety of people - a health and safety committee made up of employee representatives ...
- Consult representatives - consult employee representatives to agree the membership and size of a safety committee;
- Represent all groups - keep the total size reasonably small, but ensure all significant employee groups are represented;
- Keep a balance - make sure employee representatives are not out-numbered by management representatives;
- Represent employees - consider agreeing to more employee representatives rather than equal numbers of employee and management representatives as this shows you are not dominating the committee.
- Keep a single location - ensure a committee's work is related to a single establishment not a collection of geographically different places; and
- Avoid duplication - avoid duplicating committees for the same workplace, for example to represent different levels of staff.