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Information for HSRs in the Commonwealth jurisdiction

Key legislative concepts

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) Part 5—Consultation, representation and participation

Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (WHS Regulations) Chapter 2—Representation and participation

Your role

As a health and safety representative (HSR) you have been elected by members of your work group to represent them in health and safety matters. Your role is not to 'fix' health and safety problems in the workplace, nor are you expected to be an expert on work health and safety (WHS) issues.

Your role is to represent workers in your work group and monitor that the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) is ensuring health and safety standards. You will find that effective consultation is one of the most important skills you will need in your role.

If you identify a health and safety issue and you believe there is non-compliance of the legislation, you need to consult with the PCBU. This will normally be your team leader, supervisor, manager or principal contractor. They are obliged to discuss your concerns with you. The legislative process emphasises resolving issues through consultation.

Powers and functions

As a HSR your role is to promote the health and safety of the workers in your work group. Powers and functions allow you to effectively represent the interests of workers and contribute to WHS matters.

Broadly your powers extend to:

  • Inspecting the workplace of members of your work group if:
    • there has been an incident or situation involving a serious risk to a person's health or safety from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard
    • after giving the PCBU reasonable notice of the inspection.
  • Making a request to the regulator, that an inspector attend a workplace and assist where a WHS issue has not been resolved after reasonable efforts.
  • Accompanying an inspector during an investigation.
  • Representing the members of the work group in WHS.
  • Initiating emergency stop work procedures (if trained).
  • Issuing provisional improvement notices (PINs) (if trained).
  • Requesting the establishment of a health and safety committee (HSC).

You can choose when to exercise your powers and functions—the WHS Act does not impose mandatory obligations or duties on HSRs.

Your responsibilities

As a HSR you should:

  • Use your powers appropriately and only in relation to WHS matters.
  • Make sure any action taken while exercising your powers is not taken with the intention of causing harm to the PCBU or to an undertaking of the PCBU.
  • Represent members of your work group in a professional, timely and ethical manner.

Your training

HSR training is not mandatory. However, you are encouraged to take up this training entitlement to make sure you have the skills and knowledge to perform your role effectively. Once trained you have the power to issue PINs and direct work to stop.

If you make a request for HSR training you must be allowed to attend an approved course in WHS. You are entitled to attend an initial training course of five days then a one day refresher training course each year—the first refresher training starting one year after the initial training.

Resources

Information SourceContents
HSR Helper – Indoor air qualityThis HSR Helper describes some of the issues with air quality in the workplace and what can be done about it.
HSR Helper – Sore eyes in the workplaceThis HSR Helper describes some of the causes of sore eyes in the workplace and what can be done about it.
HSR Helper – Workplace temperatureThis HSR Helper describes some of the issues with temperature in the workplace and what can be done about it.
HSR Helper – Electrical SafetyThis HSR Helper describes some of the issues with electrical safety in the workplace and what can be done about it.

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Page last updated: 31 Mar 2016