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Did you know: Not involving workers' unions in your company's health and safety could be a massive mistake?

by , 13 June 2014
Workers' unions aren't just about demanding higher pay for your employees. They're also about demanding a better working environment.

The unions are your employees' voice. If your employees think there's a serious problem in your health and safety programme, they'll speak out.

So if you don't involve the unions, it could be a truly massive mistake.

Here are three steps you can use to ensure you hear your employees' demands by involving their unions...

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If you're responsible for health and safety in your company, you know how difficult it is to create a safe and healthy working environment. 
Especially if you've been tasked to do it on top of your daily job responsibilities.
There are dozens of questions that pop up, like…
How do you know the health and safety documents you draw up are legally compliant?
Can you be sure that you're checking all the hazards you should be, every single time?
And, how do you do all this without wasting a huge chunk of time that should be dedicated to your real job?

Involve the unions in your health and safety planning 

Step one: Prepare for union involvement
You should explain to the union official what the law says about their involvement. Get their opinion on the role they can play in your health and safety programme. Ask them how they think you can improve working conditions.
Step two: Plan together with the unions
Get your union health and safety representative to consult with the union members on health and safety issues. You must consult your management. Then bring the union's ideas and management's ideas together in a joint planning session.
Step three: Appoint your health and safety committee
Your committee will help you use the input from the unions to constantly monitor your health and safety programme.
Just remember your responsibility as an employer in this process...
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Are you responsible for compiling your SHE file?
Are you struggling to keep up-to-date with all the paperwork?
Do you waste your time formatting all the documents?
Are you stressed out about all your legal requirements?
Of course you are. You have enough on your plate already, and keeping up with paperwork isn't on the top of your to-do list. But unfortunately, it's part of your job because it's a legal requirement. And, you've answered 'YES' to at least half of the questions above.

Here are your responsibilities when working with unions in improving health and safety

According to the Health and Safety Advisorunions tend to focus on salary increases and working conditions. Their idea of working conditions focuses on work hours and leave days. They often forget that health and safety issues are also part of proper working conditions.
It's your responsibility, as an employer, to remind them of this fact and keep them involved.

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