HC Deb 25 January 1999 vol 324 cc34-5W
Mr. Cox

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the policy of his Department on the setting-up of elected safety representatives and safety committees within the construction industry; and if he will make a statement. [66649]

Mr. Meale

The Government place great importance on the role of safety representatives and the contribution which employees can play in securing health and safety both in the construction sector and more widely. I hope that wherever they are able to do so, trade unions will appoint safety representatives to work with employers to improve standards of health and safety in the workplace.

Statutory arrangements for the appointment of safety representatives by recognised trade unions, and the establishment of safety committees where two or more safety representatives request this, are laid down in the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977. These regulations apply in construction as in other sectors onshore. Where there are groups of employees who are not covered by safety representatives appointed under the 1977 regulations, their employer has a duty, under the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996, to consult them on matters related to their health and safety, either direct or through representatives elected by the employees for that purpose.

In addition, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 require the principal contractor to ensure that employees and the self-employed are able to discuss and offer advice on matters which might affect their health and safety and to ensure that there are arrangements for the co-ordination of the views of employees or their representatives.

We have asked the Health and Safety Commission to review arrangements for health and safety consultation and representation, and to consider ways to enhance the role of safety representatives.