The role of Health and Safety Representatives in COVID-19

Lead Research Organisation: University of Greenwich
Department Name: Human Resources & Organ. Behaviour, FBUS

Abstract

Workplace health and safety representative have legal rights to represent the interests and concerns of workers over health and safety, to make representations on potential hazards and dangers and to have contact with health and safety inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive or the local authority (HSE,2020). In a pandemic their independence from but relationship with management is potentially critical in assessing and addressing risk for workers and for public health.
This research identifies the role that health and safety representatives have played during COVID-19, lessons learned and best practice for future waves or pandemics. It examines organisational and sectoral mechanisms and processes for worker voice and representation and effective social dialogue and joint regulation on health and safety. It explores the potentially key part health and safety representatives are playing in the return to work and productivity. They are not only essential to independent risk assessment and the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but also the organisation of work and workplace ergonomics, including the challenges of continued home working. They are central to the protection of mental health, ensuring that health and safety measures cover all groups of workers and to the confidence of workers in their organisation's capacity to keep them safe.
Drawing upon case-studies in eight key sectors, the project, supported by the HSE and a range of trade unions, aims to explore the balance between productivity, public health and worker health and safety during pandemics, with a focus upon exemplary and future practice.

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