Trade unions and the training of health and safety representatives in Europe

David Walters (South Bank University, London, England)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Publication date: 1 December 1996


Discusses research into provisions for education and training in health and safety offered by trade unions in a number of European countries. Uses material gathered in the survey to consider the role of trade union training in health and safety and its contribution to the operation of participative management of health and safety at the workplace level. Discusses the significance of employee representation in health and safety regulation and examines the support provided by trade union training in the context of factors that influence its effectiveness. Several specific aspects of trade union training are identified as characteristic. Other aspects of trade union health and safety education that contribute to the overall support and proactive role of trade unions in preventative health and safety are identified and discussed. Trade unions make extensive provision for education and training in occupational health and safety. This is a significant factor in raising awareness of health and safety issues and the development of a preventive health and safety ethos in all of the countries included in the study. Argues that it is possible to identify a common pedagogy in trade union education and training in occupational health and safety. This pedagogy is rooted in the educational methods of labour education, emphasizing the value of participants’ own experience and developing a collective approach to the definition and solution of problems, while encouraging listening and communication skills in this process. Shows that although trade unions have suffered a loss of influence and power across Europe during the past decade ‐ and in some countries their losses have been severe ‐ in the case of education and training in health and safety, generally trade unions have maintained a significant provision as well as continuing to develop an innovative and dynamic approach to its content and delivery.



Walters, D. (1996), "Trade unions and the training of health and safety representatives in Europe", Employee Relations, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 50-68.

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Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited

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