Influence of trade unions on health and safety at work

  • Christopher David Kaufman

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


With the passing of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) the subsequent Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations (1977) the trade unions acquired an enhanced role in the field of health and safety at work. At national level they became involved in HSC Tripartite Committees whilst at workplace level unionappointed safety representatives with statutory support came into being.

The objectives of this study were to examine how health and safety at work is perceived by those trade unionists and how unions organise themselves to influence health and safety. In the course of the study an analytical framework for examining the influence of trade unions is developed.

Trade union influence in this area can be measured by looking at inputs such as ideology, resources and how they are organised or outputs such as effects upon accident rates and the extent of occupational ill health. This study concentrates on the ‘input’ side (leaving the more complex analysis required of the 'output' aspect for future investigation).

Data were obtained through an initial literature search, personal involvement, focussed interviews with experts in the field and questionnaires to safety representatives whose shopfloor level perceptions and experience could be set against national level perceptions.

The major conclusions were that though trade union information, training and advisory services had been increased in recent years not enough of these resources appeared to be reaching its shopfloor target and that the unions now need to concentrate upon building up workplace organization
to translate the impact of improved servicing into the bargaining strength which will give them the influence to make improvements in health and safety at work.
Date of Award1985
Original languageEnglish


  • Representatives
  • Health
  • Safety
  • Trade Unions

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