Answered By: Health and Safety Team
Last Updated: Jul 12, 2023     Views: 87

What is the role of the trades unions in Health and Safety?

The University has a duty to consult with its staff on Health and Safety matters in the workplace and this includes the trades unions on Health and Safety matters.

Recognised trades unions have a broad range of rights in health and safety law. Union representatives can attend health and safety committees, University health and safety training and related courses, and to be informed when Health and Safety Executive inspectors are to visit the University, and to meet and consult with the inspectors without management being present.

What contribution do the trades unions make to Health and Safety?

The trades unions have an important part to play in driving high standards of Health and Safety in the workplace, not only for their members but for the benefit of everyone at the University.

The unions are independent of management and as such can represent their members concerns and interests to senior University management.

The role of trades unions in Health and Safety is underpinned by statute law and includes the right to appoint Health and Safety Representatives, for the employer to establish recognised Health and Safety Committees to which the unions must be invited and for the union to be consulted on Health and Safety matters.

More information on the role of the trades unions in health and safety can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website along with information about union-appointed representatives

Where can I get more information on trades unions and their Health and Safety role?

The Health and Safety Executive website is a comprehensive source of information on the role of the trades unions in Health and Safety in the workplace.

Further information can be found on the respective websites of the University's two recognised trades unions:

If you are trades union member and wish to talk to the Health and Safety Representatives you can contact your union by email through the following addresses:

What do the Safety Representatives do?

The role of the trades union health and safety representatives are covered by statute law. The representative can:

  • Attend Health and Safety committees
  • Accompany Health and Safety inspections of the workplace
  • Represent health, safety and welfare matters to management, including presenting complaints
  • Be consulted and contribute to the development of University Health and Safety policy and procedures.

The University has to provide the trades union Health and Safety representative with time to do the job from their normal job, and to provide facilities and support for them to be effective in their role.

If I'm not a member of a trade union, can I still become a Health and Safety representative?

If you're not a trades union member then you cannot be appointed by the trades unions as one of their Safety Representatives. You can however volunteer as a Staff Safety Representative. It is recommended you discuss this beforehand with your line manager and your work colleagues, and that your colleagues elect you for the role as the representative of their choice.

Guidance on the role of the Staff Safety Representative is provided on the Health and Safety Executive website

If you wish to discuss this further please contact the Safety team at who can also provide you with information on training for the role.