The Safety Representative and Safety Committee (Northern Ireland) Regulations 1979 apply to organisations that have recognised Trade Unions for collective bargaining purposes. The legislation permits the Trade Union to appoint safety representatives from among the workforce whose functions include:
- investigating causes of accidents
- representing employees in consultation with the employer
- investigate potential hazards and dangerous occurrences
Safety representatives are entitled to time off to fulfil their functions and undertake relevant training. They also have a right not to be unfairly dismissed or suffer a detriment for fulfilling or proposing to fulfil their functions.
In addition the regulations also require an employer to set up a safety committee upon a written request from 2 or more safety representatives.
The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996 compel employers in non-unionised organisations to consult with their workforce on health and safety matters. Consultation can take place at an individual employee level or through elected safety representatives, whose functions and rights are similiar to those detailed above. The employer should ensure that the representatives are provided with (at the employers expense) appropriate training in health and safety matters.
Further information is available from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland, www.hseni.gov.uk, or 028 9024 3249