Safety Representatives – Why do you need them and what do they do?
13 February 2019
Why do you need a Safety Representatives?
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005
It applies to all employers, employees (including fixed-term and temporary employees) and self-employed people in their workplaces. The Act sets out the rights and obligations of both employers and employees and provides for substantial fines and penalties for breaches of the health and safety legislation.
Under Section 25 of the 2005 Act, all employees are entitled to select a safety representative to represent them on safety and health matters with their employer.
Section 26 of this Act requires the employer to consult with employees to ensure cooperation with preventing accidents and ill health and in turn the workers can consult with their employer. Section 26 sets out the arrangements for this consultation on a range of safety and health issues.
Where a safety committee is already in existence, it can be used for this consultation process.
Under Regulation 23 of the Construction Regulations where more than 20 persons are employed at any one time on a construction site, the project supervisor for the construction stage must facilitate the appointment of a safety representative.
Source – HSA.ie
What does a Safety Representative do?
Now you have assigned the role of the Safety officer, they are now representations on behalf of their members to their employer on any health and safety matter. The representative also represents their members in consultations with health and safety executive inspectors or other enforcing authorities.
Safety representatives, after giving notice to the employer, have the right to inspect the whole or part of a workplace that they represent at a schedule agreed between them and the employer, based on the nature and extent of the hazards. A safety representative also has the right to inspect immediately where an accident or dangerous occurrence has taken place, or where there is an imminent danger or risk to the safety, health and welfare of any person. The frequency of these inspections depends on a number of factors:
- Changes to the building or layout
- The nature of work activities
- The nature of work locations
- Size of the workplace
Safety Representatives should be given learning resources and from that they will be able to ascertain the frequency of these inspections. If you are having difficulty with providing learning resources to your appointed Safety Representatives we have developed an Office Safety Package that can be tailored to your companies needs, we can also provide a bespoke package for you, just get in contact by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on +353 1 693 1421.
- Recommendations – Make recommendations to the employer on safety, health and welfare at the place of work
- WorkPlace Accidents – The employer may request the Safety Representative be present when the inspector interviews an employee about an accident or dangerous occurrence that took place.
- Inspector – The Safety Representative may be asked to accompany an inspector carrying out an inspection under Section 64 of the 2005 Act, other than the investigation of an accident or dangerous occurrence, although this may be allowed at the discretion of the inspector.
If you have any further questions about Safety Representatives please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.