CWU Demands More Legal Support For Safety Reps

The CWU is once again urging the government to introduce new rights for Safety Reps and for the HSE to enforce existing safety consultation laws and so make best use of the accident prevention and lifesaving role of union safety reps.

The Health and Safety Executive have recently concluded a detailed consultation on "Improving Worker Involvement", the outcome of which is now awaited as the HSE put their report before the Health and Safety Commission and subsequently the Minister and government.

CWU National Health and Safety Officer Dave Joyce gave verbal evidence to the HSE's worker involvement officials back in June saying, "While the proposed new safety reps rights will be welcome, they 'are only part of the package and along with the TUC and other Unions we have stressed the need for proper enforcement of the SRSC Regulations as an important step to encouraging consultation and for the HSE to positively promote the principles of the trade union Safety Rep involvement. There also needs to be greater consistency among HSE Inspectors and EHOs in supporting, consulting and involving reps at site visits."

Amongst enhanced rights the Union called for the government to look again at the Australian system of Safety Reps having the power to issue legally binding 'provisional improvement notices', especially in light of the HSE limited resources.

In the final submission to the HSE, Dave Joyce addressed a number of detailed points within the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and Guidance to the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations which he feels requires attention such as on earnings protection, travel and subsistence and importantly on paid time off for training.

Dave said " Trained Safety Reps are at the cutting edge when it comes to addressing the new health and safety hazards of the 21st century. According to an HSE evaluation, trade union safety reps training is an important stimulus for taking up 'new issues' in health and safety.The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations give union reps the legal right to attend Union-approved safety training courses, in paid work time, although employers are sometimes obstructive and reluctant to approve requests. So I've called for more clarity in the Regulations ACOP and Guidance to avoid what has become a growing, time-wasting need to take case after case to employment tribunals (ET's). I've therefore submitted half a dozen key ET judgements as part of the Union's submission in order that the HSE/HSC and Government can make the necessary changes to stop all this nonsense."

Stuart Bristow the Health and Safety Executive's Worker Involvement Programme Manager thanked Dave for his submissions stating "we will do our best to incorporate the CWU views into our analysis of the issues for the Health and Safety Commission, which we intend to take to the Commission's meeting in February 2007".

Dave concluded "It's now down to another 3 or 4 months wait to see what the final recommendations contain."

Source: CWU news release


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