U.K.: Getting Workers Involved in Health and Safety Management

March 1, 2006
The U.K. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched new resources to help employers involve their workers in health and safety management.

Published as part of a new worker involvement Web site, the tools provide a wealth of sound help and advice to businesses.

"The active involvement of workers is fundamental to good health and safety management," said Zoe Woodrow, policy adviser in HSE's Worker Involvement Program. "However, we know that many employers find it a difficult area to address. These resources provide a range of examples and suggestions that we hope will help employers and managers to encourage joint problem-solving in their workplaces."

Steve Hinks, environmental, health and safety manager at Pirelli UK Tyres Ltd. and a member of the U.K. Health and Safety Commission's Rubber Industry Advisory Committee, said HSE's focus on involving workers and the new tools is welcomed by industry.

"We have long recognized the need for better engagement with workers in managing health and safety risks in the rubber industry," Hinks said. "Many companies, particularly smaller ones, are unsure of the best ways to go about engaging with their workers in an area such as health and safety. We are pleased that HSE has produced these helpful materials and will be promoting them to our members."

Included in the package are case studies, which clearly show the range of organizations that have successfully involved workers in managing health and safety.

Examples include:

  • The Sky Forum at BSkyB, a company-wide mechanism for managers and worker representatives elected by their colleagues to meet and discuss issues including health and safety.
  • SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems, whose 4,500 staff members are actively involved in health and safety in a variety of ways, such as near-miss reporting and safety investigation forms, underpinned by training and awareness raising.
  • Geocel, a Plymouth-based sealant and adhesive supplier with 85 employers, whose successful health and safety management is based on involving workers. The policy has helped transform Geocel's business performance build a 4-year record of production without a lost-time injury.
  • The National Probation Service, which has made significant achievements in health and safety since 2002, when it introduced a worker involvement program to improve partnership working. Workers are involved through a National Health and Safety Forum, with the active participation of trade union safety representatives, and working groups set up to deliver the Directorate's health and safety strategy.

"The diversity of organizations that are benefiting from worker involvement and the variety of systems they have put in place show that there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution but that all organizations whether in the private or public sector, whether large multi-site operations or smaller manufacturing firms can involve workers in successful health and safety management," Woodrow said.

HSE says its Worker Involvement Program will continue to develop its new worker involvement Web site to encourage employers and workers to cooperate in managing health and safety risks.

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