UNION SAFETY REPS TOOLBOX
IUF Briefing Note:
Roving Safety Representatives in Agriculture
Why are roving safety representatives
Small numbers of workers are often employed in many agricultural undertakings
scattered over wide geographical distances. Normal arrangements for health
and safety representation are difficult to apply. It is therefore necessary
to introduce a scheme based on external worker representatives who will
visit agricultural undertakings in a given area.
What is a roving safety representative?
She/he is a representative/delegate of workers who has access to and visits
agricultural workplaces to represent the health and safety interests/concerns
What is their relationship
to the workplaces they visit?
They are appointed from outside the workplaces. In Sweden, for example,
they can be safety reps working in larger undertakings who assume responsibility
for neighbouring, smaller enterprises. Alternatively they might work full-time
for a trade union. In Sweden, they are referred to as regional representatives.
Who chooses them?
They are appointed by trade unions.
What do they do?
Their overall objective is to stimulate and support local health and safety
activity with a view to reducing hazards, accidents, ill health and fatalities
in agriculture. Typically both roving and ordinary, safety representative
will: Represent workers' interests by improving consultation procedures
and promoting worker participation, Inspect workplaces and identify hazards,
Try to improve occupational health and safety management.
Will they have legal rights?
Yes they will have legal rights when the convention is ratified and implemented
by a member country.
Do any roving safety representative
systems already exist?
Yes, statutory provisions for roving (regional) safety representatives
all industries in Sweden;
the construction industry in Norway,
certain sectors in Italy.
Experimental systems are being implemented in:
Which agricultural workplaces
would roving safety representatives visit?
Agricultural workplaces with small numbers of workers.
How does the system of roving
safety representatives function?
Experience shows that they work informally and co-operatively, and maintain
a good relationship with workers and employers. They stimulate worker
participation in health and safety and assist in improving health and
What are the benefits?
To government: studies show that all types of safety representatives
save lives. They are intermediaries who complement and support the work
of labour inspectors at a local level in a cost-effective manner.
To employers: evidence shows that roving safety representatives
stimulate and improve occupational health and safety management through
worker participation. This in turn leads to qualitative improvement in
the management of business performance overall, not only in individual
small enterprises but that of other organisations with which they have
To workers: workers will benefit directly
because of improved health, safety and welfare conditions. They will be
encouraged to participate in health and safety at the workplace and will
have health and safety support from an experienced workers' representative.
What will a roving safety
Any roving safety representative scheme requires resources. However, evidence
from other countries shows that the schemes are not a costly way of improving
health and safety in the workplace. Indeed, the benefits from reduced
accidents and ill health will outweigh the costs of such a scheme.