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What rights do safety reps have?

Trade unions have the right under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 to appoint workplace safety reps. The Regulations give various rights to safety reps, require employers to set up a safety committee and to inform and consult safety reps in good time on matters relating to health and safety.

Safety reps have the right to:

  • take an active part in workplace risk assessments;
  • investigate potential hazards and 'dangerous occurrences', and examine the accident book;
  • investigate members' complaints;
  • carry out inspections of the workplace in work time, at least every three months;
  • require their employer to set up and attend a safety committee (where two or more safety reps request this);
  • be consulted on new working practices and new technology;
  • receive safety information from their employer, e.g. inspectors' reports, hygiene surveys, risk assessments;
  • attend union-approved training courses without loss of pay; and
  • have access to a phone and office equipment, and paid time off work, both to carry out inspections, and to meet staff and other safety reps.

Safety rep rights are set out in guidance published by the TUC – Safety Reps and Safety Committees – also known as the 'Brown Book'. Download it here (PDF).