Under the scheme, known as the Worker Safety Adviser (WSA) Challenge Fund, worker safety representatives will work together with employers, offering advice and information on health and safety matters and ensuring that employers are aware of their rights.
Bill Callaghan, chair of the Health and Safety Commission, welcomed the initiative.
“Increasing worker involvement has been shown to improve health and safety records and is a key part of our strategy. I very much welcome this announcement, which shows the Government’s continued commitment to health and safety at work. It also recognises the benefits that a genuine partnership of employers and workers can bring in terms of improved health and safety,” he commented.
The announcement of the Fund comes on the back of a WSA pilot scheme, whereby trained safety representatives worked with a number of small firms nationwide.
The nine-month trial was aimed at small firms without union representation in industries with a higher risk, such as construction, engineering and hospitality.
The results of the pilot showed that 75% of employers made changes to their approach to health and safety, and 11% carried out risk assessments.
For further information, see our Health and Safety section.