Worker safety adviser image









The reasons, roles and resources that mean trade union safety reps make work a whole lot safer

Safety reps at work
The rights and roles of workplace safety reps around the world.

Roving reps What should unions do when a workplace hasn't got a workplace safety rep? Roving reps or Workplace Safety Advisers (WSAs) covering several workplaces could be the answer.

Notices Union inspection notices (UINs) and provisional improvement notices (PINs) are allowing union reps to take workplace safety enforcement into their own hands.

Union effect Hygienists might have a measure of it and doctors a diagnosis for it, but only workers with collective power have much chance of doing anything about workplace harm. Hazards shows how.


Britain: Roving reps scheme "limited" but welcome, says TUC
Union schemes will dominate the first round of Worker Safety Adviser (WSA) Challenge Fund projects. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson welcomed the recognition of the positive union role, but warned: "This initiative is very limited and we still need changes to the safety reps' regulations to ensure that we have roving safety reps and better rights to extend the benefits of the union safety effect nationwide."
Risks 163, 3 July 2004

AUSTRALIA: Report calls for powerful roving reps
Union safety reps in the Australian state of Victoria should be empowered to enter non-union workplaces and shut down dangerous premises, says a new report. It says workplace with union safety reps need "roving" union safety.

Risks 151, 10 April 2004

BRITAIN: Roving reps or roving rats?
The government has announced its disappointing and fainthearted response to overwhelming evidence that greater use of union safety reps can dramatically improve safety across the workforce. An HSC “worker safety adviser” (WSA) pilot using union safety reps proved unions were highly effective in a "roving rep" role. Instead of introducing a nationwide scheme, however, HSC has introduced a three year £3 million challenge fund that will at best allow 30 or so to become WSAs, although HSC says the new reps need not be safety reps at all, but could have been "a health and safety manager or consultant".
Risks 150, 3 April 2004

BRITAIN: New union reps to raise safety in smaller firms
The TUC has welcomed government support for a new breed of union safety rep. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Andrew Smith told the Labour Party conference on 2 October 2003 that the government would provide funding for more "roving safety reps," who will promote health and safety in small and medium workplaces that do not necessarily have union members. more

BRITAIN: Worker safety advisers are a hit!
A worker safety adviser scheme created in response to union calls for "roving" safety reps has been a stunning success, a study has concluded. Nearly 73 per cent of employers said awareness had increased and a third said communications had improved; over 75 per cent of employers said the pilot had led to them changing their approach, and nearly 70 per cent of workers said there was more discussion on health and safety. more

Workers' Safety Advisers review
In March 2002, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) embarked on a nine-month project to pilot the use of roving safety representatives or workers’ safety advisers in small businesses. As the pilot was drawing to a close, Becky Allen spoke to the HSE and the WSAs involved to see how things had progressed.
Becky Allen, Occupational Health Review, March/April 2003 [pdf]

Roving reps: reaching workplaces other reps don't
British trade union involvement in health and safety in small and medium sized enterprises.
Text / PDF

Worker safety advisers
The UK Construction Confederation thought it was on safe ground when it set out to block the TUC's Worker Safety Adviser (WSAs) scheme. As the first WSAs take up their "revolutionary" roving role, TUC safety specialist Owen Tudor explains how badly the industry body got it wrong.
Hazards 78, April-June 2002, [pdf format]

Safety reps move on!
Following the UK enforcement agency HSC's year 2000 announcement of plans to pilot Worker Safety Advisers, TUC Commisioner on HSC Owen Tudor explains the implications.
Hazards 72, October-December 2002 [pdf format]

TUC Worker Safety Advisers webpage
Reports, news releases and news items from TUC on Worker Safety Advisers/roving reps .

Ready to roll! TUC Worker Safety Adviser pilot
On 28 January 2002, the first ever Worker Safety Advisers began their training at the TUC's National Education Centre. The Worker Safety Adviser pilot is designed to test the effectiveness of providing employers with advice on worker involvement and participation where there are no safety reps or representatives of employee safety. Of course we already know that workplaces with union safety reps and joint union/management safety committees have half the major injuries that workplaces without consultation do - this pilot will test whether similar results can be obtained with external union representatives.
Britain. TUC news release, January 2002
WSA job descriptionRisks 18

Reports on the Swedish roving union safety rep system

Regional Safety Reps and the New Economy in Road Transport Kaj Frick, National Institute for Working Life, Sweden. REHS-ETUI website. [pdf]

Towards Effective Intervention and Sector Dialogue in Occupational Safety and Health Kaj Frick, National Institute for Working Life, Sweden. Arbo website. Word Document

Regional safety reps in Sweden (Powerpoint presentation) Kaj Frick, National Institute for Working Life, Sweden. Arbo website. PowerPoint presentation

Swedish approach to worker representation on health and safety Kaj Frick, National Institute for Working Life, Sweden. HSE website. [pdf]

Roving reps in agriculture
Want to know what a roving rep does? International foodworkers' union fed IUF looks at roving reps at work around the world.
Briefing noteSummary

UK union secures roving reps agreement with bank
UNIFI and Barclays have agreed to the roll out of a network of full time Health and Safety Reps covering the whole of the banks UK operations.
UNIFI Press release, 15 May 2002Risks 53, 11 May 2002



New Zealand: The role of the rep
Worksafe reps

New Zealand: Developing a Worker Participation Agreement, NZCTU guide for union organisers.

UK: TUC New Unionism
Web guide to safety reps

UK: "The brown book" Official guide to safety reps' rights, HSE (on UNISON's safety website in pdf format)

UK: Health and Safety Executive safety reps' page
HSE workers' webpages

USA: Union health and safety committees in the US
Transport Workers Union guide

USA: Forming CWA Local OSH Committees, Communications Workers of America factsheet

CANADA: Union health and safety reps rights in Canada CUPE guide

USA: Safety Committee Checklist, UNITE Safety and Health Department (Lista Para EL Comite de Seguridad, Departamento de Salud y Seguridad de UNITE)

USA: Forming CWA local occupational safety and health committees, Communications Workers of America.

AUSTRALIA: Guide to health and safety representatives and health and safety committees from the Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

AUSTRALIA: Rights of elected occupational health and safety representatives

NEW ZEALAND: How to put the HSE Act into action a handbook for union organisers and senior delegates from the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.

AUSTRALIA: UnionSafe Network
The proliferation of top quality websites for Australia's union safety reps continues. First came OHS Reps in the state of Victoria. Then came UnionSafe in neighbouring New South Wales. Now Queensland has got in on the act with UnionSafe Network. This latest initiative is "a collaborative project involving Queensland unions working together and pooling resources relating to occupational health and safety." The network is coordinated by the Queensland Council of Unions Workers' Health Centre. UnionSafe Network says it involves full-time occupational health and safety professionals employed by individual Queensland unions and the Queensland Council of Unions. Other resources include union contact officers, workplace safety representatives and other participating organisations.
UnionSafe NetworkOHS RepsUnionSafe

UK union safety rep guides

Rights of health and safety representatives
Guidance from the UK bakers' union BFAWU on the rights on union safety representatives.

UNISON "Get active!" guide to workplace safety reps
UNISON guide

Rights to facilities and time off for UK safety reps
GMB short guide

UK union T&G's guide to safety reps' rights
T&G guide

The role of the union safety rep in UK schools
National Union of Teachers resource page