Safety Rep System Scrutinised

Coming to an installation near you soon!

The HSE Offshore Division is about to embark on an offshore inspection programme to examine the effectiveness of the safety representative system. Our understanding is that certain installations will be targeted. In any case, as part of all routine inspections, HSE will be looking at the quality and extent of workforce involvement in safety management processes.

The Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives and Safety Committees) Regulations 1989 (SI971) provides the legal framework for the operation of elected safety representatives, safety committees and statutory consultation.

The contribution of elected safety representatives and committees to successful health and safety management is confirmed by numerous research studies. However, safety representatives to operate effectively need training, support, facilities, resources, communication and recognition.

While many senior managers express commitment to health and safety, the HSE is aware that a gap can exist between the undoubted support of industry senior managers and the actual practical support available to health and safety representatives and committees.

Inspection will be against compliance with the of SI971 provisions, e.g:

- election of safety representatives by the workforce - and how the election process is carried  out;

- functions of safety representatives ‑ investigation of incidents and complaints, representation, attendance at the safety committee, and consultation;

- powers of safety representatives ‑ inspection either scheduled or following an incident;

- entitlement of safety representatives to see documentation relating to health and safety, including safety cases or their revisions;

- establishment, membership, meetings and functions of a safety committee;

- duties of installations operators, owners and employers to facilitate safety committees and safety representatives;

- consultation of safety representatives including safety case consultation, health and safety information and training;

- paid time off for safety representatives ‑ to perform functions as a safety representative and for training, as well as payment for this time

- training of safety representatives and the payment of associated travel and subsistence costs.

Inspectors will speak to managers and workers about what consultation takes place and whether workers through their safety representatives are involved in health and safety decision‑making.

Enforcement action will be taken as appropriate and every Duty Holder will undergo at least one inspection on one of their installations.

Action Taken Resulting From Intervention Activity

Compliance Level

Outcome Status

Traffic Light

No findings or verbal advice

General compliance




Formal letter issued identifying breaches and requiring action to be taken (follow up via future planned intervention activity).

Partial compliance



Formal letter issued identifying breaches and requiring action to be taken (with intervention to follow up the issues).

General non-compliance



Enforcement Notice served

Significant non-compliance



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