“Trade unions can play an important role in enforcing health and safety standards. Individual workers may find it too costly to obtain information on health and safety risks on their own and they usually want to avoid antagonizing their employers by insisting that standards be respected.
A union can spread the cost of obtaining information on health and safety issues among all workers, bargain with employers on the level of standards to be observed, and monitor their enforcement without putting any individual worker at risk of losing his or her job.
Studies in industrial countries indicate that the role of labour unions in ensuring compliance with health and safety standards is often an important one.”
Canadian studies show unionized workplaces are safer
A 1993 study done for Canadian ministries of labour said that union- supported health and safety committees have a significant impact in reducing injury rates.
In 1994 and 1996, studies done for the Ontario Workplace Health and Safety Agency found that approximately 80 per cent of unionized workplaces reported high compliance with health and safety legislation, while only approximately 60 per cent of non-unionized workplaces reported such compliance.
U.S. studies show unionized workplaces are safer
A 1991 study, using U.S. data, found that unions dramatically increased enforcement of the occupational health and safety act in the manufacturing sector.
Unionized workplaces had a higher probability of having a health and safety inspection, and their inspections tended to be more probing, as employees exercised their walk around rights the right to accompany a government inspector during a workplace tour.
According to figures reported by the World Bank, there may be a 95 per cent probability of a government health and safety inspection if there is a union, versus only 16 per cent if there is no union. The quality of inspections improves dramatically if an employee who is knowledgeable about hazards of the workplace accompanies the government inspector.
CUPE provides help and training
CUPE has health and safety staff who know health and safety laws. They know how to contact government health and safety inspectors and how to urge them to write orders on your employer to make your workplace safer. In addition we can provide health and safety information on hazards found in your workplace.
We can help provide training so you can learn how to make your workplaces safer and healthier.