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Health and safety

The FDA is committed to ensuring that its members have the right to be as safe and healthy at the end of each working day. This fundamental right has been enshrined in law through concerted pressure by the trade union movement for centuries.

A unionised workplace is a safer place. Safety studies show that workers are twice as likely to be injured in a non-unionised workplace. This is because in unionised workplaces, employers are required to work with union-appointed safety reps and set up safety committees.

The FDA as a trade union has 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 and 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.

The training and support safety reps receive from their union mean that an experienced safety rep is in a good position to help. The FDA provides its safety reps with information, training and support over a wide range of health and safety issues. They are trained to spot hazards at work, assess risks, carry out inspections and negotiate improvements with management. Their back-up includes specialist advice from union safety experts, and access to legal advice if needed.

Becoming a Health and Safety rep for the FDA

FDA Safety Reps have made and continue make a difference. We reduce injuries, improve ill-health and help change the safety culture within organisations. We also raise awareness of wellbeing in the workplace as well as highlight and resolve issues with work-life balance.

Every branch and section across the FDA should have a Safety Representative. Members who are interested in wellbeing, health and safety in their workplace should seek nomination through their local executive committee and be elected by members at the Annual General Meeting. Once elected, the next step is to receive accreditation by undertaking TUC training.

Health and Safety Stage 1 Certificate

This is the core course for trade union health and safety representatives. It is the first stage in the TUC health and safety training programme. It is designed to help you build the skills, knowledge and confidence you need to carry out your work as a safety rep.

The course will help you to:

  • Understand the role and functions of a trade union health & safety rep
  • Organise for health & safety
  • Prevent accidents and ill health
  • Learn key safety rep skills

The course is free to members of trade unions affiliated to the TUC like the FDA. It can be taken online or in a classroom setting and the length of the training varies. We recommend that you take the online course via the TUC website.

You will need to register your details on the website. Once you have completed the course you will receive your certificate and be accredited as a Safety Rep for the FDA.

For more on Health and Safety matters, or if you are interesting in becoming a Health and Safety rep, please contact FDA National Officer Steven Littlewood at steven@fda.org.uk.

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