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The three step approach to getting unions involved in your company's health and safety plan

by , 24 June 2013
Unions are key stakeholders in your workplace. You and your management involve them in working conditions and wage negotiations, but do you involve them in health and safety? Here are three steps you can use to involve unions in health and safety in your company so you can implement health and safety effectively with the cooperation of your employees.

Fact: You can't maintain a safe and healthy workplace without involving employees.

Sure, you can have as many rules, regulations and procedures as you like but if employees don't implement them, your workplace will be unsafe.

Although it's primarily your responsibility to keep employees safe in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), employees are also responsible for reporting unhealthy or unsafe conditions to you.

And since unions exist to represent the workers, this means representing them in all aspects of the workplace, including health and safety.

So how do you get unions to cooperate with you when it comes to reducing the health and safety risks of your employees in the workplace?

Use these three steps to get the unions on board when it comes to health and safety

The Health and Safety Advisor recommends this three step approach:

Step #1: Prepare for union involvement

Explain to union officials what the law says about consulting with unions about your company's health and safety plans. This means you must get their opinions about the role they can play. Ask how they want to be involved.

Remember, there's no legal reason why unions shouldn't become involved in health and safety issues. Their mandate includes working conditions. Health and safety is an important working condition.

Step #2: Plan together with the union

Ask union representatives to consult with the union members on health and safety issues. This means you must also consult with management and bring all the ideas together in a joint planning session.

Step #3: Appoint a health and safety committee

The role of the unions doesn't end by appointing health and safety representatives. The union represents employees so you must keep the union involved through an inclusive health and safety committee.

But although unions can be an important ally to you in health and safety, they can also be obstructive. The role they play depends largely on the information and training you'll give them. Your attitude towards the union also affects their attitude towards health and safety. A negative attitude from you will bring a negative response from the union.

Remember, a healthy and safe business equals more productivity.

If you have a safe and healthy workplace, employee morale will improve and productivity will increase. You'll have fewer workplace accidents and absenteeism because of occupational injury and disease. So ensure you include unions in your health and safety plan to help you achieve this in your workplace.


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