A report by the TUC has revealed that the 100,000 trade union health and safety reps in the UK save the economy millions of pounds, in addition to reducing injuries and ill-health at work.
The report, published last Friday during the TUC’s #heartunions week, also revealed that workplaces with a union presence have a 24 per cent lower injury rate than non-unionised workplaces.
It was found that safety reps in workplaces can encourage greater reporting of injuries, raise awareness of risks and help develop a positive culture in the workplace. Staff with safety reps are more willing to raise issues, and unions help make their members more aware of safety issues at work, the report revealed.
Workers with a health and safety committee at work were found to be more than twice as likely to have received health and safety training in the previous year as those without one.
It is estimated that safety reps save society more than £181m but cutting down on the time lost from workplace injuries. They also save more than 286,000 days that would have been lost to work-related illness.
The TUC trains 10,000 workplace safety reps each year, with many more being trained by other unions. TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Union health and safety reps play a huge role in protecting people at work and save the economy millions.
“Good employers recognised the importance of working with unions to ensure their shops, offices and factories are safe. It’s a shame the government is putting this good work at risk with its ill-conceived trade union bill.”
Union safety reps were the first to highlight risks such as the dangers of asbestos, violence at work, repetitive strain injury, and the effects of passive smoking and stress.