Safety Representatives (OBUHSN-07)


Under section 2(4) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act (HASWA) 1974 the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations (SRSCR) provides for the appointment of Safety Representatives by recognised Trade Unions from amongst the employees of the University. These Safety Representatives shall be concerned with matters affecting the health and safety of every University employee in consultation with the Governing Body of Oxford Brookes University under section 2(6) of the HASWA and shall have the functions prescribed under the legislation. Safety Representatives may be appointed to cover every University site.

Management responsibility

It is the duty of senior management of the University to consult Safety Representatives in order to make and maintain arrangements that will enable employees to co-operate effectively in developing measures to ensure their health and safety at work. The duty should also extend to monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of such measures.

In accordance with the requirements of the HASWA the number of Safety Representatives who may be appointed for each trade union will be agreed by negotiation. The Vice-Chancellor must be notified in writing of those appointed to act as Safety Representatives. The duties of these representatives are set out in regulation 4 of SRSCR and outlined in 'Functions of Safety Representatives' below. Each Safety Representative shall be permitted to take such time off with pay during their working hours as shall be necessary for the purposes of:

  • performing their functions under section 2(4) of HASWA and as listed at paragraph 8 below,
  • training in health & safety as required by the Health & Safety Commission under section 16 of HASWA to enable them to perform their function as a Union Health & Safety Representative.

Trade union responsibilities

As defined in the SRSCR the recognised Trade Unions at Oxford Brookes University must notify the Vice-Chancellor in writing of those appointed as Safety Representatives and the group or groups of employees they represent. Thus it would be expected that UNISON and the University and College Union (UCU) would appoint Safety Representatives for every site of the University as appropriate. Persons nominated to act as Safety Representatives shall if possible have been employed by the University throughout the preceding two years or have had at least two years experience in similar employment.

The recognised Trade Unions must notify Oxford Brookes University in writing when a person's nomination as a Safety Representative is withdrawn.

Functions of safety representatives

Safety Representatives should make themselves readily available for advice and assistance on problems connected with health and safety to any member of staff whom they are appointed to represent.

Provided they are acting within their knowledge and experience, appointed Safety Representatives will bear no legal responsibility beyond their duties as employees when advising staff as part of their role.

Each Safety Representative shall have the following functions:

  • to investigate potential hazards and dangerous occurrences at the workplace and to examine the causes of accidents,
  • to investigate complaints by any employee they represent relating to that employee's health, safety or welfare at work,
  • to make representations to the University on matters arising out of the 2 bulleted points above,
  • to make representations to the University on general matters affecting the health, safety or welfare at work of the employees at the workplace,
  • to carry out inspections of the workplace provided reasonable notice in writing is given to the University management of the intention to do so,
  • to represent the employees they were appointed to represent in consultations at the workplace with inspectors of the HSE and of any other enforcing authority, and to receive information from inspectors,
  • to inspect and take copies of any relevant documents required by statutory provision,
  • to obtain information from the University necessary to enable them to fulfil their functions,
  • to attend meetings of the Health, Safety and Welfare Committee.

A safety representative who has been involved by an employee they represent in a health and safety matter may discuss this matter with the appropriate University representative.

The Safety Representative may place the matter on the agenda of the meeting of the Health, Safety and Welfare Committee at any time even if the matter has been resolved.

At all stages of this consultation process, Safety Representatives and any other member of the University will have available to them the advice and assistance of the Health and Safety Team. Safety Representatives will also be able to call upon the resources of their Union or Association.

Nothing in this Health and Safety Notice is intended to supersede existing negotiating machinery between Management and Trades Unions or Associations.

The Trades Unions and Associations mentioned above have been consulted about the terms of this Health and Safety Notice.

Issue: 06 August 2019