Hampshire UNISON aims to have at least one health and safety representative covering every workplace where we have members. Research from the TUC shows that workplaces with union safety reps and joint safety committees have half the serious injury rates as those without (The union effect, 2004). Our reps play an important part in keeping the workplace safe.
Keeping workers safe
Employers have a legal responsibility to keep the workplace safe by carrying out risk assessments to find potential dangers – and then acting on the findings. UNISON health and safety reps make sure that employers act to minimise risks.
Health and safety reps have important rights, including the rights to:
- paid time off to carry out the role and receive training;
- raise health and safety issues with employers;
- facilities and support from employers to carry out inspections;
- legal and technical information from employers.
Helping when things go wrong
As well as helping to prevent accidents, our reps also provide support when things go wrong. UNISON reps advise members on:
- reporting – accidents, near misses and violence in the workplace must be reported to help prevent them from happening again;
- personal injury claims – if your employer has been negligent, you may be able to make a claim for compensation;
- UNISON accident benefit – we offer short-term financial help to members who can’t work;
- There for You – we can offer longer term support to members who need more time to recover from an accident through our welfare charity, There for You;
- state benefits – if you are off work because of an accident and you’re struggling financially, you may be eligible for state benefits.
How do I become a UNISON health and safety rep?
You and your fellow UNISON members elect all of the union’s voluntary officers, including health and safety reps. Ideally members should arrange a meeting to elect their rep. Where this isn’t possible because of working patterns then please get in touch with the branch, who can assist. You will need to be nominated by two other members at your workplace, and once elected return your completed nomination form to the branch office.
What information and support will I receive?
You will receive an introductory pack filled with essential information which you can refer to which will enable you to start the job. UNISON provides special introductory and follow-up courses for health and safety reps, which not only equip you with the skills needed to carry out the role, but enable you to meet other reps from a variety of workplaces and discuss problems and ways to deal with them. You will also receive regular bulletins and be invited to attend meetings of the UNISON health and safety reps committee. If you meet a problem you cannot solve help is a ‘phone call away in the form of your branch Health & Safety Officer and the full-time convenors in the branch office.