Workplace Report June 2018

Health & safety news

Bosses using new data law to block safety reps

Some employers are using the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to stop safety reps getting information they are legally entitled to, according to TUC head of health and safety Hugh Robertson. 

Under regulation 7 of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (SRSCR), employers must “make available to safety representatives the information … necessary to enable them to fulfil their functions.”

However, Robertson says a lot of employers are telling reps the GDPR restricts what information they can supply. They are refusing to hand over information from accident report forms, for example, or instructing their auditors to stop sharing safety audits on the grounds they contain personal data.

“The GDPR does not change the information that can be given to union health and safety representatives in the least,” he makes clear. “Both the SRSC regulations and the 1998 Data Protection Act already restricted personal information being given out, which is why 
employers had to anonymise it or get the permission of the individual. In fact, the official accident report form published by the TSO has a box asking the person to consent to the information going to the safety representative.” 

He confirms HSE advice remains as follows: “Employers are required to provide documents and information requested by safety representatives under regulation 7 as before.”