The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996 requires that employers consult their employees on matters that affect their health and safety.
Where employees are not represented under The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1979, the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996 will apply. The organisation can choose to consult employees directly as individuals, or through elected health and safety representatives (known as representatives of employee safety in the Regulations), or a combination of the two. If it is a small business, consulting with individuals is often effective. It gives everyone a chance to have a say in health and safety matters.
The organisation must consult with employees or their representatives about the following, the introduction of any measure which may substantially affect the employees' health and safety at work, eg the introduction of new equipment or new systems of work, such as the speed of a process line or shift-work arrangements; arrangements for getting competent people to help the employees comply with health and safety laws (a competent person is someone who has the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to help an employer meet the requirements of health and safety law); the information the organisation must give their employees on the risks and dangers arising from their work, measures to reduce or get rid of these risks and what employees should do if they are exposed to a risk; the planning and organisation of health and safety training; and the health and safety consequences of introducing new technology.
If at least two health and safety representatives request, in writing, that a safety committee be formed within the workplace, the organisation must establish such a committee within three months of the request. The organisation must ensure that elected representatives receive the training they need to carry out their roles, as is reasonable in the circumstances, and pay any reasonable costs to do with that training, including travel and subsistence costs. The organisation must also give them the paid time necessary to carry out their functions and allow candidates reasonable time, with pay, to carry out their functions as a candidate in an election, as well as time to consult employees on health and safety.
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