Hundreds of thousands of workers' health and safety reps are active in workplaces across the EU. Since the 1989 Framework Directive passed into law, employers have had a duty to carry out risk assessments, and workers' reps must be involved in them in ways which vary widely between countries and, indeed, companies.
Risk assessment is a new idea for many countries. As yet, there is no real European model for it. This guide forms part of a trade union strategy on risk assessment. It stems from the fact that consultation of workers' reps remains a legal requirement rarely put into practice. When it does take place, it is treated as a technical exercise carried out by experts, which makes no allowance for feedback from workers' own experiences. In some cases, it is just a paper formality.
The ETUI Health and Safety department (formerly TUTB) has consistently argued that more real involvement by workers in prevention activities is essential if Community Directives to improve the working environment are to have practical effect. This guide has been designed as a work tool to help workers' health and safety reps of all kinds to assess working conditions on the shopfloor.