Safety Committee / Representatives
The Safety Representative and Safety Committees Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1979 apply to organisations that have recognised trade unions for collective bargaining purposes.
The legislation permits the trade union to appoint, from among the workforce, safety representatives whose functions include:
- investigating causes of accidents;
- representing employees in consultation with the employer; and
- investigating 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.
The regulations also require an employer to set up a safety committee upon a written request from two 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 similar to those detailed above. The employer should ensure that the representatives are provided with (at the employer’s expense) appropriate training in health and safety matters.