Safety rep toolkit: 4
We define the competencies of an effective health and safety reps, the training options available and Prospect's expectations of employers and reps.
Safety rep competencies
The following are competencies Prospect recommends you develop and/or maintain (ie through refresher training or regular workplace use):
- hazard identification & risk assessment: to spot and measure danger, and to be able to evaluate the adequacy of your employer’s risk assessments
- legal knowledge: a grounding in key health and safety law and associated standards
- communication skills: to cascade employer consultations, encourage staff feedback, make unambiguous representations to your employer and be influential
- organisational skills: so you can prioritise, handle committee work and manage your time - remember your entitlements to time off
- negotiation skills: to identify barriers and how to overcome them, to make and defend union objectives assertively, minimising the likelihood of conflict
- IT skills: to develop intranet communities, professional briefings/newsletters, conduct on-line surveys etc
- handling personal cases: for experienced reps.
It is important that you have union H&S rep training as soon as possible after you take up appointment. Even if you have NEBOSH, IOSH or other similar H&S qualifications, you will still need trade union training for you to grasp fully your role and responsibilities as one of Prospect’s H&S reps and network with like minded colleagues. Some employers want H&S reps to attend employer-organised worker involvement training instead of union ones. This can be a bonus but is not a substitute for union training.
Essential skills for union volunteers - new volunteers unfamiliar with the workings of a union and who's who in Prospect are advised to make this their starting point. New H&S Reps who are familiar with this may go straight to:
Introduction to health and safety stages - under redevelopment during SPRING 2013 to meet revised TUC/UnionLearn requirements. You are therefore advised to apply for training via UnionLearn - see below. Prospect will cover T&S - please discuss with Learning Services if you require further information.
Tackling workplace stress - under redevelopment as part of H&S training programme revisions.
Presentation skills - a 2 day course to help build you speak with confidence in meetings, seminars and other events.
Negotiating with employers and advance negotiating skills - 2 day courses recommended for H&S reps to improve the capacity to negotiate for H&S success.
You can view details, dates and availability for all our courses online.
TUC training is provided through a programme of specialist courses that are organised by unionlearn with TUC Education through regional education colleges. They include specialist areas such as stress, COSHH, accident investigation and more.
The basic courses for H&S reps are 'H&S stage 1' and 'Next Steps stage 2', each 60 hours long on a day-release system. There is also an advanced course, the 'TUC Certificate in Occupational H&S' of 220 hours duration, either on day-release over an academic year or through online learning.
The TUC accredits its training programme.
Prospect expects employer support:
- courses should be union-approved
- if employers run courses for safety reps, they should be in addition to, not instead of, union courses. Safety reps should exercise their legal rights to be consulted about such courses
- safety reps need cover during their training so that their ordinary workload does not become excessive or deter them from attending training.
- no one should suffer financial detriment as a result of attending training
- safety reps undertaking ‘online’ courses are entitled to time off with pay in the same way as those attending college courses.
Prospect expects safety rep:
- a personal interest in workplace health, safety and wellbeing
- a willingness to build competence through experience, learning and development
- a willingness to seek constructive relationships with members & management.
- members must be able to trust you and that your actions will never leave them exposed.
- Responsibility and discretion
- appreciating that your rights are powerful and should be used responsibly.
- being proactive, promoting health and safety, keeping constituents abreast with news and developments, running initiatives and campaigns
- being approachable - by telephone, mobile, e-mail and/or in person – let members know how best they can contact you.
We are interested in your views and welcome suggestions on how these webpages could be improved or your ideas for new content you would like to see. Please email us at SafetyReps@prospect.org.uk