IOSH worker involvement policy

Worker involvement in health and safety is a two-way process where employers and employees can work together on spotting, solving and owning health and safety problems.

IOSH believes that employers need to do more to work with employees and employee representatives to address occupational safety and health issues. In addition to strong health and safety leadership and access to competent advice, we see worker involvement as an essential part of effective health and safety management.

The facts

  • Worker involvement in health and safety is a two-way process where employers and employees can work together on spotting, solving and owning health and safety problems.
  • Such collaboration can lead to workers having positive feelings and ‘buy-in’ and this positivity has been linked with higher productivity, profitability and loyalty.
  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is keen to encourage and support greater worker involvement in health and safety in all organisations and provide web pages and guidance on this topic.
  • The HSE and Government now encourage public disclosure of issues of public interest and have published guidance on whistleblowing
  • Research has shown that worker representation and consultation have a significant role to play in improving health and safety at work.
  • IOSH has helped to develop the new standard for occupational health and safety management systems, ISO 45001, which emphasises the importance of consultation and worker participation.

Our position

IOSH believes that employers need to do more to work with employees and employee representatives to address occupational safety and health issues. In addition to strong health and safety leadership and access to competent advice, we see worker involvement as an essential part of effective health and safety management.

Workers should be encouraged to become involved in health and safety in their workplaces and should be made aware of the opportunities of becoming representatives. Managers should understand how best to engage their workers and the benefits of doing so. Health and safety representatives should be adequately trained and supported in their roles.

We believe that 'representatives of employee safety' should have the same rights as union-appointed 'health and safety representatives'. Positive health and safety cultures are ones in which there is trust and workers are encouraged to raise any issues they may have. We were concerned at reports of 'blacklisting' of construction workers who had raised health and safety concerns and/or were union members by some companies and we fully support the outlawing of this practice.

IOSH provides a range of free resources to help organisation develop skills in this area (see here) and the IOSH Blueprint competence and skills framework. In addition to our guides on management systems and promoting a positive culture, we’ve also produced a guide on communications

Relevant IOSH consultation responses: