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Workplace Health and Safety and Employee Wellbeing

Trade unions, ever since their inception has made improvement of workplace health and safety together with working state of affairs part of their top priorities. Without a doubt, advancement in that field, which includes an obvious decline in work-based accidents in the developed world, the enhancement of work techniques as well as acknowledgment of the human factor, owes lots to endeavours by trade unions. According to Johansson and Partanen (2002, p.181), the most valuable tool that Australian workers do have in ensuring improved workplace health and safety is trade unions, for the reason that structured places of work are secure workplaces, and that why scores of workers join and dwell in trade union. In Dragon (2007) study, it was established that 70% of new entrants in trade union deemed workplace health and safety an extremely vital issue of trade union; more as compared to pay. In addition, the public acknowledged that unions play a crucial role in WHS, especially in Australia (WorkplaceOHS, 2013). In UK, a National Opinion Poll established that 98 percent of participants affirmed that trade union must represent employees on issues pertaining to workplace health and safety. Undoubtedly, trade unions do play a crucial part in putting into practice the workplace health and safety standards. Entity employees could find it excessively expensive to individually acquire information on workplace health and safety risks, and they often desire to stay away from irritating their employers by being adamant that WHS standards be adhered to. Furthermore, trade union can spread the outlay of getting details about workplace health and safety issues amongst all employees bargain, and can as well supervise the WHS standards implementation devoid of putting any employee in danger of being fired (WorkplaceOHS, 2013).

Research in developed world points out that the role of trade unions in ensuring that employers adhere to workplace health and safety standards are time and again a crucial element. For instance, the move by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to initiate a system for workplace health and safety management in 2000 devoid of trade union input were nullified after an online WHS campaign financed by the international trade union movement. In this case, trade unions felt that their authority on workplace health and safety would be misplaced, and also that ILO was the suitable organisation to bring in a standard, for the reason that different from ISO, International Labour Organisation offers both employees together with employers a voicing platform (Johansson & Partanen, 2002, p.184). This International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) was successful in getting adequate votes to block the move by ISO, but this was after lobbying in more than 80 Countries. Therefore, one of the reasons why trade unions make a distinction in WHS issues is that they make sure that their representatives for safety are well trained, and these safety representatives recognize the place of work better as compared to management (Dragon, 2007, p.16). This is because they must be conscious of what actually takes place in the workplace, and double as a channel for employees to raise their issues pertaining to WHS.


Dragon, N., 2007. lives in the balance: workplace safety at risk. Australian Nursing Journal, vol. 14, no. 11, pp.16-19.

Johansson, M. & Partanen, T., 2002. Role of Trade Unions in Workplace Health Promotion. International Journal of Health Services, vol. 32, no. 1, pp.179-93.

WorkplaceOHS, 2013. Union site entry reforms will create WHS risks: AMMA. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 29 May 2014].