When an accident happens in the workplace, Safety reps are the first official person to be in the scene. A safety and health representative is the key to communication, by making it easier to exchange ideas and concerns about safety between employers and workers.  Having a health and safety representative at your workplace makes it easier to bring health and safety problems of the employees to the attention of management so they can be dealing with it and provide the best solution. 

Health and Safety Representatives are an important consideration for businesses whether they are small or large. He is supposed to cover Safety, Health, and Environmental hazards and is responsible for ensuring safety in the workplace. The primary duties of safety reps include proactive employee training, protection for workers from potential hazards and communication about hazardous accidents that may occur.

Let’s consider an example in the construction field where a man who is doing some welding work is not wearing goggles. Safety rep is supposed to interfere hereby advising his fellow employee to wear goggles for safety. In another instance, if an employee operating a forklift is not wearing a seat belt, he intervenes and asks the operator to wear a seatbelt. A well trained and properly motivated safety representative will make a positive contribution to an organisation's safety culture.

Who exactly is a Safety rep?

A safety rep could be a member of the workforce who must make sure that the employees are working in a safe and healthy working environment. Being a safety rep may not always be a full-time job,  he may be a selected employee who might undergo a valid safety rep training. He consults and makes representations with the employer regarding the safety & welfare matters of the entire workforce. After analysing the suggestions the employer implements the safety measures.

What are the duties & responsibilities of Safety reps?

Being the representative who takes care of health and safety matters is a privilege. He must make sure that all the issues and concerns of the workers are properly recorded and communicated to the management. It is the representative’s job to make sure that workers’ voices are heard. Let’s check the duties and responsibilities of a  safety representative.

1. Review the health & safety measures in the workplace

A safety rep must frequently review the safety and health measures within the workplace. He must verify that all the safety measures are properly maintained and should make necessary arrangements if anything important is missing. He must check that all the safety equipment are intact and damage-free so that in an emergency condition he could make the complete use of it.  

2. Regularly investigate complaints relating to employee's health and safety

Employee’s health and safety should  always be given priority. The rep should investigate the problems or complaints among the workers and should find a proper solution by communicating with the employer. He should act as a proper monitoring authority in analysing the issues that may arise among the workers.

3. Inspect the place where the accident happened

The representative should be the first person who should reach the place of accident if any. He should react immediately and properly in this situation by seeking the help of first aid if necessary. He should at once contact the rescue team if the accident is severe. 

4. Examine the causes of incidents at the workplace

Once the procedures are finished,  the safety officer is advised to conduct a thorough checking to find the reason behind the accident. This is important as it not only helps in analysing how the incident happened but also allows him to take precautions so that it may never happen again.

5. Identify the potential hazards in the workplace

Workplace hazards are any aspect of work that causes health and safety risks and has the potential to harm. By identifying hazards at your workplace, you will be better prepared to control or eliminate them and prevent accidents, injuries, property damage, and downtime. Some hazards are more likely to be present in some workplaces than others and depending on the work that you do.

6. Make representations to the employer or the safety committee

The safety representative should study the problems of the workers and should communicate it to the employer so that he could take the necessary actions according to the situation. He may have done proper research before conveying the details to the authorised person. It is his responsibility that he should cover the problems systematically and found a proper solution.

7. Provide guidance  for employees

Employees should be given exact guidance to be safe in the workplace. The representative should help the employees by supervising them with techniques that could help them to work without the fear of being injured. He should clear the doubts of employees and always should be available for employees for further queries. He should warn them if anyone is violating the safety procedures and to advice them to avoid such practices in the future.

8. Participate in any internal health or safety audits of the company

Companies would conduct internal health & safety audits occasionally. Safety reps should accompany the authorised people throughout the inspection and provide them with valuable feedback. As he is aware of the working environment he could really be helpful for the authorities to reach a better conclusion.

9. Keep documents regarding safety issues in the workplace

The representative should keep records of safety issues in the workplace so that he could analyse it before jumping into a verdict. After analysis of various situations, he should keep data on the issues that have come across. These documents will help him in the future to figure out the circumstances to avoid any further safety issues.

10. Work with various departments to know about the risks in working

The safety rep should collaborate with various departments within the company and inspect the issues within. He should interact with the workers regardless of the department to make sure that they are working in a better environment. As he is working with different categories of workers he could understand the overall problems and could act as a middle man between the employer and employee in safety issues.

What could be the benefits of having a safety rep in your company?

Safety in the workplace has a number of benefits, ranging from increased job satisfaction &  happiness, reduced risk of injury, which in turn reduces the risk of lost working hours, lower productivity and even lawsuits and legal punishments. By having a designated health and safety representative, businesses will have a straightforward point of contact to ensure that the risks of health and safety issues are mitigated. Safety reps play an imperative role in making your employees feel safe at work.

1. Health and Safety Representatives are the voice of employees

2.  They bring your employees concerns to your attention where you otherwise would not be aware.

3. These reps are normally elected by your employees and therefore your employees will feel more comfortable to approach and speak to them about their worries.

4. They observe where potential hazards might exist in the workplace that you have not yet picked up on.

5.  Safety reps encourage all employees to use safe work practices.

Employees always feel more satisfied in using their safety reps to raise an issue or introducing an opinion about occupational safety and health than going directly to authorities. When everyone works together as a team, great things can happen, such as improving work conditions and keeping people safe. You can tell when you walk into a workplace that operates this way - workers feel involved, people are more committed to working safely, the working environment is happier, people want to work harder, productivity is higher, and there are fewer accidents and injuries.

Here in Olive Safety, we provide a 2-day Safety Representative course that concentrates on providing the attendees with the best training on health & safety legislation. We provide them with unique skills that could help them to fulfill their position as a certified safety representative in a highly professional manner.