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Safety representative
Domain: Health and safety at work => Professional figures and company committees
Grammatical category
Noun phrase
Grammar notes
A person appointed by a trade union from among employees in an organisation where it is recognised to represent employees' interests in matters relating to health and safety.

Appointment Persons appointed to be safety representatives shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, either have been employed by their employer throughout the preceding two years or have had at least two years' experience in similar employment, in order to ensure that they have the kind of experience and knowledge of their particular type of environment necessary to enable them to make a responsible and practical contribution to health and safety in their employment.
Normally, recognised trade unions will appoint representatives to represent a group or groups of workers for which the union has negotiating rights. The limitation of representation to a particular group or groups should not, however, be regarded as a hindrance to the raising by that representative of general matters affecting the health and safety of employees as a whole.
Appropriate criteria to set the number of safety representatives to be appointed include the total numbers employed, the size of the workplace, the variety of different occupations and of workplace locations, the operation of shift systems, the type of work activity and the degree and character of the inherent dangers.
If employers have any employees who are not covered by trades union appointed safety representatives, they must consult these employees on health and safety matters either directly or through their elected representatives, known as 'representatives of employee safety'. Currently these representatives do not have the same rights and functions as trade union appointed safety representatives (i.e. they lack the function of investigation, the facility to represent employees in meetings with enforcing authorities, to receive information from Inspectors under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and to attend safety committee meetings in the capacity of safety representative), though some employers do grant them these rights and functions and the situation is under review.

Each safety representative shall have the following functions:
1) to represent employees in consultations with the employers about health and safety matters, such as the introduction of any measure at the workplace which may substantially affect the health and safety of the employees, the appointment of competent persons to help comply with health and safety requirements, the health and safety information and training the employer is required to provide to the employees;
2) to investigate potential hazards, dangerous occurrences and causes of accidents at the workplace;
3) to investigate complaints by any employee he represents and to make representations to the employer on matters affecting the health, safety and welfare at work of the employees;
4) to carry out inspections of the workplace;
5) to represent employees in consultations with inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive and of any other enforcing authority, and to receive information from such inspectors;
6) to attend meetings of safety committees.

Appointed safety representatives must be given information on:
1) any risks to the health and safety of employees, as identified in the risk assessment;
2) the preventive and protective steps to ensure health and safety;
3) the procedures to be followed in any emergency;
4) the identity of any competent person nominated by the employer to help implement those procedures. Employers must permit safety representatives to take paid time off for performing their functions and undergoing such training as may be reasonable.
Definition source
Jones 2003, adapted from The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, and relative Guidance Notes; "Safety representatives and safety committees", Third edition 1996, L87, HSE Books; "A guide to the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996", L95, HSE Books.
European legislation
Directive 89/391/EEC
British legislation
The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977; Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974; The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996
Related terms
Concept diagram
Translation proposal De
Arbeitnehmervertreter für den Arbeitsschutz
Reliability code De
Translation proposal Fr
Délégué du personnel pour la sécurité
Reliability code Fr