The Health and Safety Representative has a key role in representing the health and safety interests of NASUWT members within the workplace.
The NASUWT believes that a trained health and safety representative is a vital member of the Union team within a school or college.
A safe, inclusive and healthy working environment is crucial to safeguarding the wellbeing of NASUWT members and in achieving key union policies such as a satisfactory work/life balance.
Under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (SRSC), and the SRSC 1979 for Northern Ireland, Health and Safety Representatives’ functions are defined as:
- representing NASUWT members health and safety interests in consultation with the senior management;
- investigating potential hazards and dangerous occurrences;
- examining the causes of accidents at work;
- investigating complaints from the people you represent;
- occasionally meeting a Health and Safety Inspector;
- carrying out safety inspections of the workplace;
- attending meetings of the Health and Safety Committee;
- reading health and safety information provided by an Inspector, your employer and NASUWT.
A person appointed by the headteacher/principal to oversee health and safety, commonly known as the school or college’s health and safety officer, or competent person, has quite a different role and is responsible in law for the way in which he/she carries it out.
Union Health and Safety Representatives cannot be held legally liable for failing to carry out their functions.
An NASUWT Health and Safety Representative is indemnified by the Union.
Teachers seek legal and professional protection from a teachers’ union.
They often overlook the role that the NASUWT plays in the protection of their health, safety and welfare.
It is important to ensure that all staff are involved in and made aware of the work done in their interests by the NASUWT Health and Safety Representative.
Non-members should be encouraged to join and receive the full benefits of NASUWT membership.
The NASUWT believes that all Health and Safety Representatives should be trained and the Union’s training courses are progressive, with Stage 1 and Stage 2 courses aimed at school or college representatives, and a Stage 3 course aimed at senior Health and Safety Representatives such as Co-ordinators and Local Association Health and Safety Officers.
Additionally, there is an annual briefing held for Health and Safety Training Officers and Co-ordinators at Hillscourt Education Centre, with a mix of NASUWT and external speakers and an opportunity to discuss developments and guidance in the field of health and safety.