HSE Issues New Worker Involvement Guidance

Britain's Health and Safety Executive released new guidance for involving employees in managing workplace health and safety on Oct. 14 during a conference in London. HSE Chair Judith Hackitt, who chaired the conference, said there is clear evidence that organizations with good worker involvement deliver better performance on health and safety, and 90 percent of employers and employees agree effective involvement is important.

Speaking at the conference, Health and Safety Minister Lord McKenzie of Luton said, "Thirty years ago this month, the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations (1977) became law. For many people, workplaces are safer, the number of serious but non-fatal injuries reportedly falling by 70 percent. Workplace deaths have fallen by 76 percent, and an estimated 5,000 deaths have been prevented."

"The key principles of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) were built upon consultation and engagement and are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago," McKenzie said. "I see two key tenets here, firstly the importance of leadership from the top of every organization, and secondly the real involvement of workers in managing health and safety. We are here today to promote and celebrate the latter. Worker involvement in health and safety is one of my priorities for this year. I see it as one of my tasks to take every opportunity to go out and meet with employers, workers, and their health and safety representatives to understand the health and safety issues facing people at work and to promote worker involvement as widely as possible."

"The real substance of good worker involvement is trust, respect, cooperation, and joint problem solving between employers and employees. This applies to all workplaces, irrespective of size or any other factor," said Hackitt. "This guidance will help all organizations decide how to implement a culture in their organization which genuinely values employees’ contributions, leading to higher commitment and productivity."

Provisional figures issued by the Health and Safety Executive in June showed 228 UK workers died in incidents at work in 2007-2008, compared with 247 workers in 2006-2007.

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