How to encourage employees to be health and safety representatives

The workforce may have reservations about performing the role of a health and safety representative, particularly in non-unionised workplaces. Employees may believe that:

  • health and safety is a matter for individuals;
  • they will be punished for criticising management practice;
  • they lack the skills and confidence to take on the role; or
  • you will not truly take on board their concerns.

To encourage your employees to represent colleagues on health and safety issues, you can build commitment in your workforce if you:

  • clearly state your intention to discuss matters affecting employee health and safety with them, as required in your health and safety policy statement;
  • explain the benefits of joint working and co-operation for everyone because everyone has a role to play in addressing health and safety;
  • ensure there is a safe environment to raise issues by respecting the views of the workforce;
  • show how you will consider what they have to say by providing feedback to explain how decisions take employee views into account; and
  • allow employees to have a say and make a difference in the decision-making process.

For individuals

  • Provide appropriate training to develop skills and confidence
  • Provide access to suitable support networks, for example through RoSPA's regional Safety Groups UK network; and
  • Provide opportunities to demonstrate how valuable their contribution is through recognition, for example, in performance agreements or rewards such as a corporate award for health and safety representative of the year.

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