What do union safety reps do?

If your employer recognises a union, you have the right to elect safety representatives, under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977.

The Safety Reps Regulations:

  • require employers to set up a safety committee;
  • give safety reps the right to play an active part in workplace risk assessments, investigate hazards and ‘dangerous occurrences’, and investigate members’ complaints; and
  • ensure safety reps have the right to access training in health and safety at work.

Union safety reps are trained to advise and represent workers in health and safety at work. A good safety rep will:

  • treat your case seriously and in confidence, and offer support;
  • listen carefully to you and show you that they are prepared to help;
  • offer ongoing support if needed, for example, in cases of bullying or harassment, or if you face a long spell off work;
  • investigate your complaint;
  • encourage you to write down details of any accident or incident, including what was said and done, and the date and time;
  • advise you to report the incident in the accident book;
  • find out whether other workers have experienced similar problems, and if so ask them for details;
  • discuss how you want the case to be pursued, and tell you about the stages in any procedure that you may follow;
  • offer to represent and/or support you at meetings with management, helping prepare any documentation needed, discussing the case with you beforehand, and keeping you informed at all stages;
  • make sure that any possible solutions are discussed and agreed with you;
  • if necessary, seek help from the union’s full-time officer, legal service or health and safety specialists;
  • seek, with your agreement, the help of other workers/union members;
  • ensure that the case is dealt with as quickly as possible; and
  • ensure that any agreement reached is effective.
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.