The Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations (SR&SC Regs) places a requirement on employers to establish a safety committee if requested to do so by safety representatives. Our Health and Safety Committee (H&SC) has been in being for over twenty years, working in partnership with Unison to resolve health and safety issues in order to create a safer workplace for all employees.
The H&SC schedules meetings to take place every three months, with a smaller, sub-committee, the Health & Safety Working Group (H&SWG), meeting the following month to deal with matters as directed by the H&SC. Over time, for one reason or another, the membership of the H&SC has fluctuated, matters have not always been resolved in a timely manner and more serious matters have overtaken long standing issues. As a consequence, a meeting has taken place in order to address the situation and “get the train back on tracks”.
The legislation requires a “safety committee” to be established and we created a “Health & Safety Committee” which at the time, we believed would ensure the committee had a recognisable identity that reflected the functions of the membership. However, over time the scope of the committee has broadened and we believe that the time is right for the committee to be re-branded.
The proposal is for the H&SC to become the “Health, Safety and Wellbeing Group” that will meet bi-monthly, a total of six times a year instead of the present four. We believe that this will ensure that the progress and momentum of matters is maintained at an acceptable level. The current sub-committee (Health and Safety Working Group) will cease to function in order to keep the work and efforts of the Health, Safety & Wellbeing Group clearly focused on its very important role.
The re-branding recognises that the level of workplace safety, how employees view their workplace & the organisation has an important impact on their physical and mental being, which has the potential for long term illness of the employee and can also have a negative impact on the service and its effectiveness. By including “Wellbeing” as a key element we believe that the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Group will more accurately reflect the aims and purposes of its membership.
In line with the SR&SC Reg’s, the core membership of the “Health, Safety and Wellbeing Group” has been agreed in consultation with the Unison Health & Safety Officer in order to “keep the group as compact as possible and that those attending have adequate authority to ensure the recommendations and actions are implemented”. There will be arrangements to allow additional attendees where their particular specialist field or knowledge will be of benefit to the meetings.
The proposal recommends that the Health Safety and Wellbeing Group should hold their first meeting on Wednesday 1st July with the subsequent meetings taking place on Wednesday 2ndSeptember and Wednesday 11th November; this would allow for the proposal to be submitted for final approval. During the interim period, the scheduled meetings on 8th April for the Health & Safety committee and 6th May for the H&SWG will still go ahead as planned.