Employers must by law consult with their Employees on matters of Health and Safety.
Having made numerous submission to Safe Contractor, Construction line and CHAS sadly it has become obvious to me that very few organisations, regardless of their Business type are doing this so let’s have a look at what should be done and importantly how to do it.
When the Health and Safety at Work Act first came into Law in 1974, it fully recognised the role and influence of the Trade Unions at that time.
The Act, therefore, introduced a legal requirement for consultation and this was recognised in The Safety Reps and Safety Committees Regulations for those industries that recognised Trade Unions, and the Health and Safety Consultation with Employees Regulations for those industries that did not have any trade union influence.
Both regulations shared a common principle, and that was that Employees should be recognised for their experience and given the opportunity to discuss with the Employer and Health and safety concerns.
Most of you who receive this, probably don’t have a Trade Union affiliated Health and safety rep, who have legal duties, rights and responsibilities afforded them in order to carry out their role in the workplace.
Employers must consult is the legal position, here are some of the things that the Health and Safety Consultation with Employees Regulations require of Employees:-
- Discuss any changes to work patterns
- Discuss the introduction of any new equipment or substances
- Discuss any proposed changes to the workplace
- Discuss with the workforce any engagement of a health and safety professional
The principle of consultation is one of simple inclusion and to value the views of Employees.
From my point of view involving Employees is vital if you want to improve health and safety performance.
Sharing views and opinions by engaging with your staff can oftentimes identify unrecognised potential problems, or indeed solve problems. Employees and Staff who feel part of the process of managing a business are more
likely to buy-in and support any changes, than any that are simply imposed by Management without consultation.
The best way I can show how consultation with Employees has had a huge effect is to draw on my experience in the Construction sector.
Fatality rates are down to the lowest on record over the past 3 years and the main reason for this is daily consultation/ briefing meetings between the Site Manager and the workers at the start of the day to collectively discuss the work taking place, the hazards
and risk introduced by the work, and how everyone working on the site that day can do something positive that will ensure that everyone goes home safe at the end of the working day.
So it’s up to you whether you consult daily, weekly, monthly, or indeed quarterly the frequency will be determined by the hazards and risks relating to your business, the duration will vary from business to business it may take only 5 minutes or 20, minutes but to my mind is probably one of the most effective and significant methods for improving health and safety in any organisation, large or small.