Health and safety representatives

Electing a HSR

HSRs and deputy HSRs must be elected by members of the work group they will represent. All workers in a work group must be provided with every reasonable opportunity to nominate HSRs and vote in the election.

Workers from the work group determine how an election is to be conducted (if one is needed). Any PCBUs must be informed of the election date as soon as practicable after the date has been decided. Members of the work group and relevant PCBUs must also be informed of the election outcome.

The election process may be informal, for example with a show of hands. Alternatively, it may involve a more formal process such as the use of ballots. If the majority of workers in a work group agree, the election may be conducted with the assistance of a union or other organisation or person.

If there is more than one work group, there needs to be a separate process to elect HSRs for each one.

If the number of candidates nominated for election equals the number of vacancies in the work group, the candidates are deemed to be 'elected' and there is no need to proceed with an election.

Can a Manager be a HSR

A worker who has management responsibilities can be a HSR if they are a member of a work group and are elected by the workers of that work group to be a HSR.

However, it is important to understand that the HSR role is to represent workers in health and safety matters and not to fix health and safety problems in the workplace. Although managers, supervisors and team leaders are workers with the right to have their work health and safety interests represented, they often have specific health and safety duties they are required to carry out in their management role.

A manager who is also a HSR may therefore be placed in a difficult position. For example, they may be the person with whom a work health and safety concern is raised (as the HSR), and at the same time be the person who, at least initially, has a responsibility on behalf of the PCBU to respond to that concern.

Notification of elected HSRs

Section 74 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 states that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that a list of health and safety representatives and deputy health and safety representatives (if any) for the business or undertaking is prepared and kept up-to-date.

A copy of the up-to-date list must be displayed in a way that is readily accessible to workers in the relevant work group or work groups:

  • at the principal place of business of the business or undertaking;
  • at any other workplace that is appropriate taking into account the constitution of the relevant work group or work groups.

The PCBU must also provide a copy of the up-to-date list to WorkSafe as soon as possible after it is prepared.

Lodging your notification

To assist the PCBU in meeting this requirement they are to complete the HSR notification template (word document) and email to WorkSafe at wstinfo@justice.tas.gov.au

Provisional improvement notices 

A PIN is a notice that is issued to a person requiring them to address a health and safety concern in the workplace.

A PIN may be issued if a HSR reasonably believes that a person is contravening or has contravened a provision of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 in circumstances that make it likely that the contravention will continue or be repeated.

The HSR may issue a PIN requiring the person to:

  • remedy the contravention
  • prevent a likely contravention from occurring
  • remedy the things or operations causing the contravention or likely contravention.

A copy of a PIN notice can be seen below.

When can a HSR issue a PIN?

A HSR can issue a PIN only if the HSR has completed an approved HSR training course, or previously completed that training when acting as a HSR of another work group.

A PIN can be issued when the HSR believes a person is contravening or has contavened a provision and it is likely that the contravention will continue or be repeated.

A PIN Cannot be issued for a matter that an inspector has already addressed.

Who can be issued a PIN?

A PIN may be issued to any person. This can include a PCBU or other duty holders such as workers, officers and other persons at the workplace.

It is important that the PIN is issued to the duty holder who has resonsibility for the contravention specified in the PIN.

For further information phone WorkSafe on 1300 366 322 and request a copy of the health and safety representative guide.

Health and Safety Representatives Training

It is not mandatory for HSRs to be trained.

However, HSRs should be encouraged to take up their training entitlement to provide them with the skills and knowledge to perform their role effectively.

HSRs can issue PINs and direct work to cease only if they have been trained.

Untrained HSRs can perform all other functions.

Undertaking training

The entitlement of HSRs to undertake a course of training are outlined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (WHS Act).

The WHS Act provides that HSR training must be provided through a course of training that is approved by WorkSafe.

In considering an application for approval to conduct HSR training, WorkSafe may have regard to all relevant matters including:

  • the content and quality of the curriculum, including its relevance to the functions and powers of a HSR
  • the capability and capacity of the applicant to be a provider of training
  • the qualifications, knowledge and experience of the person who is to provide the course

An applicant for approval to provide HSR training may be an organisation, a company or a sole trader.

The approval process

An application must include the proposed course content and be made to WorkSafe for approval to deliver the following HSR training:

  • initial HSR training which must be a minimum of 35 hours face-to-face training over a period of five days, and/or
  • refresher HSR training which must be a minimum of seven hours face-to-face training over a period of one day
  • gap training must be a minimum of one day which will enable the HSR to gain the additional powers for this role.

Note: Approval to deliver Refresher HSR training can only be sought by providers where previously approved to deliver the Initial HSR training.

Period of approval

Approval will be granted for a period of up to five years and will be subject to the approved provider continuing to satisfy all the conditions of approval including trainer qualifications and course requirements.

For a copy of the How to Become an Approved Provider of Health and Safety Representative Training contact Helpline on 1300 366 322.