Safety reps make business sense

Eliminating accidents boosts productivity and profits, union bosses claim

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has told small businesses they can improve profits as well as the well-being of employees by taking on union safety representatives.

The TUC said that the 320,000 trained reps operating across the UK have significantly reduced the amount of accidents and injuries in workplaces.

Union leaders claimed that the safety rep scheme has not only protected workers, it has benefited businesses’ bottom lines by increasing productivity and reducing the risk of legal action.

Small employers have increasingly been on the receiving end of legal action taken by injured or ill employees who claim their bosses have been negligent.

Worryingly, studies have shown that many small firms do not have employers’ liability insurance, which is required by law and helps defend against compensation claims.

With the number of complaints, ranging from stress to fatalities, rising, some small firms have been forced out of business by the high costs of their legal bills.

The TUC said that safety reps, who are currently fairly rare in small businesses, are key in reducing workplace risks and saving employers money.

However, union bosses warned that all reps must be put through correct training schemes to be effective, with many employers believed to be denying staff time off for training.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said that it’s no accident that workplace where there are unions tend to be much safer places to work.

“Unions help employers keep their staff safe and their workplaces hazard free. In those workplaces where suspicious bosses refuse to let union in, it’s unfortunately the staff who end up paying the prices because they’re the ones who have to work in unsafe conditions,” he said.

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