We defined safety as absence from danger and avoidance of injury. According to this definition, we should expect to do everything in their power to keep away from danger and free of injury while at work. This does not sound like a great deal to expect from our operations, but there is often a conflict in the employer´s mind between increased production, which sometimes may involve some risk taking, and the necessity to keep our employees safe and uninjured which may cost money. Legislation has developed over a number of years to protect workers, and was initially designed those who were weak an particularly vulnerable to exploitation from any employers who, tempted by the lure of increased production, might put their employees at risk of injury. Nowadays our increasingly flexible patterns of work being available, all our operations may work from home or even from their car, for all or part of their working week, also have to consider the health and safety issues arising from this.
The term risk relates to the chances of the hazard actually resulting in harm being dome to someone. Once the employer has identified a potential hazard when they have to estimate the chances or risk of someone being harmed by it. Our idea of risk assessment. The emphasis in health and safety today is on the prevention of accidents if possible by eliminating anything that could be a hazard and by predicting the level of risk in various situations. It is not, of course, always possible to eliminate all hazards or minimise all risks in a workplace, but employers are expected to predict potentially dangerous. The emphasis in modern health and safety is to encourage those who own, manage or work in organisations to take responsibility for health and safety in them. For this to happen, both the work place and safety representatives also need to be involved, risks need to be assessed and action needs to be taken to reduce these where possible.
Our safety representatives
As we said earlier, there is a duty our Operations to consult with and involve safety representatives in the workplace.
These regulations form part of the health and safety at our work.
Our regulations provided that recognised the trade unión, can appoint safety representatives, and they recommend that in general the people who are appointed should have worked for that employer for at least two years so that they have a reasonable range of experience from which to draw. In some of our trade unions, the shop stewards take on the role of safety representatives while in three the safety representative is a separate post. The people to fill these positions are, however selected by «The Trade Unión» not by the management. Organisations where there are no recognised trade unions can still appoint safety representatives, and they are normally elected by the workforce. As our operations start to appreciate that there are benefits for the business and a return on investment to be gained from focussing attention on health, safety and wellbeing, this role could become even more important.
The safety our representatives main function is to represent the employee in consultation with the employer on issues relating to health and safety in the workplace and they can investigate hazards or potential hazards as well as carrying out inspections of the workplace. They are entitled to paid time off to perform their duties and for training to enable them to carry out their duties effectively and they may also require some facilities such as the use of a telephone a filing cabinet and room to conduct interviews. If two or more safety representatives make a written request to management for a safety committee to be established then the employer is legally obliged to fulfil that request. The management of health and safety at work regulations, every employee shall consult safety representatives in good time with regard to:
- The introduction of any measure at the workplace which may substantially affect health or safety of the workplace
- Arrangements for appointing or nominating a “competent person” who is able to assist the employer to carry out risk assessment exercises and help them in carrying out duties in relation to health and safety
- The health and safety information that the employer is supposed to provide to employees
- The planning and organisation of health and safety training
- The health and safety consequences of the introduction of new technology at work
There are, as you can see a wide range of duties performed by safety representatives. Safety representatives usually receive excellent training from trades unions for this demanding role and those who take on these roles can also choose to take the training further and use it as part of a professional qualification in health and safety.
Our Safety committees
Our Safety committees have to be established,as we said early, is two or more safety representatives request the organisation to do so, but many organisations dont wait for this request and it is good practice to set up a safety committee in any case. In organisations seeking to improve health safety and wellbeing this provides a useful way of gaining increased employee engagement. Safety committees are likely to provide some or all of the following functions:
- Study figures and trends for accidents and notifiable diseases
- Examine safety audit reports
- Consider reports and factual information provided by inspectors
- Consider the report of safety representatives
- Assist in development of safety rules and safe systems of work
- Monitor the effectiveness of safety training in the workplace
- Monitor the effectiveness of the safety and health communication in the workplace
- Encourage publicity for health and safety programmes in the workplace
- Provide a link with the appropriate inspectorates
Our competent person in the Operations
This has a specific meaning in terms of health and safety as the framework directive, which in our operations must designate “a competent person” who has practical and theoretical knowledge of particular equipment and who is able to identify any problems that may occur with it. The provision of this directive is reflected in our and clearly refers to a management nominee, although not necessarily to the safety officer but to someone who because of their knowledge and experience of particular machinery plan or equipment is able to identify problems or defects in it. That person needs to be competent not just to do the job but to carry out risk assessment for health and safety for employees, an must monitor and review protective and preventive measures. A safety officer may fulfil this role but is not likely to be the only designated competent person as they are unlikely to have the required level of knowledge or experience for all machinery.