Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Board – Trade Union Representative Appointments

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Board – Trade Union Representative Appointments

Further to LTB571/16, this is to update Branches, Regional Health and Safety Forums and Health and Safety Reps on the Government (DWP) announcement this month on a number of new appointments to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Board.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, established the Health and Safety Executive enforcement body and its controlling Executive Board which was to be a balanced, “Tripartite” body consisting of a Chairman, 3 members from employers, 3 members from Trade Unions and up to 4 others from organisations such as local authorities and professional bodies. Parliament also decided that in the first place there will be consultation with the C.B.I., the T.U.C., local authorities and that the role of the Trade Unions and consultation was to be greatly strengthened.

For 40 Years the process of appointing the Trade Union HSE board members was carried out in consultation with the TUC who would put forward nominees on behalf of Trade Unions.

In 2014, that was halted by the Tory led Coalition and subsequent Tory Government when Ministers refused, for the first time in history, to appoint a TUC-nominated candidate to the HSE board and TUC nominated Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) was rejected.

This led to a long drawn out battle between the TUC, Trade Unions and the Government over appointments to the three Trade Union HSE Board seats.

The Government first filled one of the seats with Jonathan Baume, the retired general secretary of the First Division Association (FDA), which represents the interests of senior civil service managers.  Baume who was ‘hand-picked by the Tory Government wasn’t supported or nominated by a single Trade Union, including his own former Union the FDA.

With Kevin Rowan of the TUC the only remaining Trade Union nominee appointed to the board the Government then attempted to fill the third remaining Trade Union seat with a ‘boss’ in the name of Susan Johnson OBE the retired Chief Executive of the Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service and former Chief Executive of the Northern Business Forum, and Executive Director of Business Development for the Yorkshire Regional Development Agency.  She was a director of Greggs plc, Legacy Trust UK and Network Rail.

The TUC, CWU, all UK Unions and the Hazards Campaign collectively condemned the appointments which caused outrage across the Trade Union and Labour movement.

After a huge public furore kicked up by the Trade Unions, Hazards, FACK, Professional Safety Organisations and Trade Press, Johnson’s appointment was withdrawn and she was given an alternative seat but vindictively the third Trade Union seat was kept vacant by the Government for several years and Trade Unions and the TUC had just one instead of three HSE Board members.

The move was the latest in a series of Government actions to silence the voices of working people on health and safety at work. Many of the joint industry groups that gave advice to the HSE were also disbanded. The right of Trade Unions to nominate members to the Board of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority was also abolished.

These moves and appalling decisions outraged every Trade Union who collectively, with the TUC, objected in the strongest possible terms, raising the matter with the Secretary of State and the Chair of the HSE Martin Temple.

Since then Unions, including the CWU have been campaigning and lobbying, pressing the Prime Minister, Ministers and MPs from all parties, SMP, MLAs and HSE, protesting at the appointments process which led to three Trade Union seats on the HSE Board shrinking to one.

The 2016 TUC Congress debated the matter and carried Emergency Motion E6 committing the TUC and Unions to fight to protect the tripartite composition of the HSE Board and to restore the balance on the board by reinstating the three Trade Union seats.

After a long and protracted battle campaigning on the issue, I’m pleased to be able to inform you that the TUC and Trade Unions (CWU included) have won back the three seats on the HSE Board, filled by TUC nominated individuals who will take up their appointments in August/September.

The three are:-

  • Kevin Rowan TUC Head of Organising, Services & Learning.
  • Claire Sullivan TUC General Council Member and is the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s National Health and Safety Officer. (Claire has just completed ten years as a TUC representative on the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council).
  • Ged Nicholls TUC General Council and is the General Secretary of the Banking Union ‘Accord’.

Yours sincerely


Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

19LTB389 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Board – Trade Union Representative Appointments

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