Celebrating our safety reps

 Denise McLaughlin 25 Oct 2017

This European Week of Safety and Health 2017, Denise McLaughlin explains the vital work of RCN safety representatives.

Nursing staff at work
Not a day goes by when the European Union isn’t in the headlines. 
While it’s tempting to switch off from the Brexit noise, as an RCN safety rep and chair of the RCN’s UK Safety Representatives Committee, I have a vested interest in these developments.
The legislation we refer to on a daily basis in negotiations with management – to improve working conditions for members – originated in Europe. This includes legislation on taking breaks at work, moving and handling equipment and access to safer sharp devices. 
It’s 25 years since the first European health and safety legislation became enshrined in UK law. A quarter of a century later, I’m working with RCN Council and staff to ensure our members don’t lose this protection when we leave the EU.
2017 also marks 40 years since the role of the trade union safety rep was protected by law, giving us a defined role and employers a duty to work with us.
Our motto is: ‘proud to make a difference’ and although RCN members are facing real hardship at present, there are changes – big and small – that we can introduce at work, such as providing access to drinking water, which significantly improve the lives of nursing staff.
The RCN’s Value of Reps project is recognising the contribution of all workplace reps, to shine a light on what it takes to succeed in the role and to encourage new people to sign up too.
So why not use European Week of Safety and Health to find out who your RCN safety rep is and what they do to make your workplace safer.
And if you don’t have one in your workplace, discover more about the role and join a community of people who are committed to changing things for the better.

Denise McLaughlin

Denise McLaughlin

Chair, RCN UK Safety Representatives Commitee


Denise McLaughlin is an RCN Safety Representative and Steward at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead.

Denise is Chair of the RCN UK Safety Representatives Committee.

Page last updated - 08/04/2019