Become a POA H&S Officer

Independent research has shown that the presence of and proper use of safety reps within the workplace can cut the accident rate by 50%. That is why the POA need to ensure that there is a Health and Safety rep in every place our members work.

The following outlines the jobs reps need to do, the training required and their legal rights.

The role and legal functions of the Health and Safety rep which allows them to act on behalf of members and raise issues with management are clearly defined in the Safety Reps and Safety Committee Regulations 1977    the “brown book”.

In summary as a POA Health and Safety rep your role is;

  • To represent the members in consultation with the Employer.
  • To investigate potential hazards, complaints by members, dangerous occurrences and accidents
  • To do formal inspections at least once every three months or more frequently by agreement with the Employer
  • To receive information and meet with HSE Inspectors
  • To attend meetings of the Safety Committee, if there is one.
  • So that you can carry out these functions your Employer has a legal duty to:
  • Consult with the Health and Safety Reps, in good time, on any matters affecting the Health and Safety of members.
  • Provide Health and Safety Reps with reasonable facilities and assistance.
  • Form a Safety Committee if the Health and Safety Reps request one.
  • Give Health and Safety Reps paid time during work hours to carry out their duties in the workplace and to attend training.

Training is important as it gives you the chance to develop your skills so that you understand the role of the safety Rep, the rights of a Safety rep, how to do inspections, interview members, write reports etc and your employer’s practices and policies on health and safety. You are entitled to time off for training with pay, this is one of your rights as a health and safety rep as found in the Safety Reps and Safety Committee regulations (brown book).

At present the only courses open to POA Health and Safety reps are run by the TUC, both at a local TU education centre or can be done online. Applications are to be sent to our office in Leeds so that we can apply for facility time; this also goes for anyone doing the courses on line.

So, why not become a safety rep?

All POA reps should be appointed by their branches - if you are interested, speak to your Branch Secretary about how to get yourself appointed as a POA Health and Safety rep for your workplace.

Joe Simpson
Chair to the POA Health and Safety Committee.

Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.