The Role of the Safety Representative in the Workplace

March 14, 2023

We often receive queries from members seeking clarity on the role of the safety representatives in the workplace. A Safety Representative is an employee elected/selected by their fellow employees, whose main role is to represent them to management on all health and safety issues.

A safety representative's role is to:

  • make representations for employees
  • conduct inspections
  • carry out investigations
  • accompany HSA inspectors

The Safety Representative provides a direct link between the employer and employees on issues that may be identified through workplace inspections or through direct communication with fellow workers. This role is set out in the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, all employees are entitled to select a safety representative to represent them on safety and health matters with their employer. Further details can be accessed here.

Safety Representatives are allowed time off from their work, without loss of earnings, for training and for undertaking the functions of being a Safety Representative. While legislation does not put a management responsibility on Safety Representatives to ensure better safety and health, it does allow those who get involved the opportunity to promote better practice in their workplace. Safety representatives must have access to information on measures required under safety and health legislation such as risk assessments and reportable incidents.

The new version of the Safety Representatives Resource Book is being prepared by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and will be completed shortly. This new version (Version 3) will be based on the previous Version 2 – same legal chapters, same hazards etc but will include updates and some new content related to hazards.

Ibec Academy are in the process of revising the Safety Representative course to reflect these changes and are running a 3-day online course on 9-11 May 2023. Further details can be found here. It will be based on the updated guidance. The course will focus on case studies and case law to enhance the learning experience.