Do unions make a difference?

Yes. Safety studies reveal that serious accident and ill health levels are lower in unionised workplaces. You are twice as likely to be injured in a non-union workplace. If your employer recognises a union, you have the right to elect health and safety representatives, and your employer must set up a health and safety committee.

Evidence for the union safety effect is set out in this 2015 report by the TUC: How unions make a difference to health and safety: the union effect (PDF, 189KB).

Since their earliest days, trade unions have treated health and safety at work as one of their concerns. Today, unions bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to workplace safety:

  • Unions offer expertise and legal support to those facing work-related ill health or injury.
  • They are represented at the highest levels, for example, on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and government health and safety advisory bodies.
  • Union safety research has a long history of influencing new safety legislation.
  • Unions seek to work closely with employers to improve day-to-day workplace safety standards.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.