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Do you know what type of training a union representative requires to fulfill his role as a health and safety representative in your company?

by , 25 June 2013
Unions exist to represent the workers. This means representing them in all aspects of the workplace, including health and safety. While appointing a union representative to be involved in your company's health and safety is a good start, you also need to ensure union representatives play a meaningful role in health and safety compliance. Read on to discover the type of training a union representative will need to efficiently perform his role as a health and safety representative in your company...

To ensure union representatives play a meaningful role in health and safety compliance, you need to provide information and training.

Luckily, there are a number of organisations that offer accredited health and safety representative training.

And it's up to you to send your union representatives on one of these training courses.

In these courses, they'll begin to understand issues like what the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) says about health and safety in the workplace, they'll also gain knowledge about the rights, powers, functions and duties of a health and safety representative. In addition they'll also know be trained on how to handle health, safety and environmental problems in the workplace.

Although these courses are efficient, you need to understand that a union representative has responsibilities over and above his role as a health and safety representative.

And this is where you come in. You need to train the union representative for his additional responsibilities.

But do you know what these are?

According to the Health and Safety Advisor, a union health and safety representative's training must include:

  • How the union makes sure the workplace is safe and free of hazards.
  • What the union does if you as an employer don't act on the problems found in a workplace inspection.
  • The role of the union in accident investigations.
  • What the union does if their members don't follow health and safety standards and procedures.
  • How to protect union members who are victimised for reporting unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Employees have a duty to report unsafe or unhealthy conditions, but it can happen that an employer victimises a worker who makes the report. Such victimisation is forbidden.
  • How to get union members involved in health and safety issues. (Often union members just leave it to their health and safety representative to deal with health and safety issues. They should all be involved in health and safety matters.)
  • Health and safety rights of workers. (Unions care about the rights of workers. The Bill of Rights states that 'everyone has the right to an environment that isn't harmful to their health or well-being'. This includes the work environment.)

Remember, training union officials in health and safety empowers them to motivate their members more effectively. With increased knowledge, they can more easily convey the importance of health and safety issues to their members. And by playing a meaningful role in health and safety compliance, they'll help you reduce the health and safety risks.
 

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