Health and Safety Representative Role and Function - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures outline the process for election of a health and safety representative, and the role and function of the appointed health and safety representative.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Act - Work Health and Safety Act (Queensland) 2011

HSR - Health and Safety Representative

OHS Division - University Occupational Health and Safety Division

PIN - Provisional Improvement Notice

Regulation - Work Health and Safety Regulation (Queensland) 2011

WHSQ - Workplace Health and Safety Queensland

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to all staff of the University, and their health and safety representatives.

4. Procedures Statement

The election of a health and safety representative forms part of the consultative framework at the University by providing a formal communication channel for the discussion of workplace health and safety matters between workers and management.

The HSR role and entitlements are legislated in the Act and Regulation.

The HSR role is separate to that of the Work Health and Safety Coordinator (2.20.06) and Occupational Health and Safety Manager (2.10.09) positions, however these roles function collaboratively to achieve improved health and safety at the University.

5. Health and Safety Representatives

Health and safety representatives provide a means for formal representation of workers in decision making processes associated with health and safety matters at the workplace. HSRs facilitate consultation by involving workers and giving them a voice in health and safety matters.

6. Work Groups

A HSR represents the health and safety interests of a work group. There can be as many HSRs and deputy HSRs as needed after consultation, negotiation and agreement between workers and the University.

A worker or group of workers can ask the University to facilitate the election of one or more HSRs. The election process starts with the determination of the work group to be represented by the HSR. A work group is a group of workers who share a similar work situation.

If a worker or group of workers requests the University to facilitate the election of a HSR, the Organisational Unit must notify the Director, OHS Division.

6.1 University responsibilities

If a request is made for the election of a HSR, the University must start negotiations with workers regarding work groups within 14 days of that request being made. These negotiations will determine the:

  • number and composition of work group(s) at the workplace
  • number of HSRs and deputy HSRs
  • workplace to which the work group(s) apply.

The negotiation and determination of work groups should aim to ensure that workers are grouped in a way that most effectively and conveniently enables the work health and safety interests of those workers to be represented by the elected HSR.

After the work group(s) are determined, the University must notify the relevant workers of the relevant work group(s) and the outcome of the negotiation.

7. Election and Eligibility

The members of a work group elect their own HSR. All members of the work group are able to vote in an election and the University must provide resources and assistance to carry out the election.

To be eligible for election, a person must be a member of the work group. Elections for a deputy HSR are carried out in the same way.

The term of a HSR/deputy HSR is three years. They cease to hold office if:

  • they leave the work group
  • they are disqualified from being a HSR
  • they resign as a HSR
  • the majority of members of the group agree the person should no longer represent them.

HSRs can be re-elected.

Elections are not needed when the number of candidates is the same as the number of vacancies.

A staff member elected as a HSR must advise the Director, OHS Division as soon as practicable after being elected.

7.1 University responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the University to facilitate HSR elections during ordinary working hours, and provide the necessary resources to carry out the election. Elections would normally be facilitated by the relevant Organisational Unit. The OHS Division can be contacted for advice.

The University must involve the workers' representative (e.g. union) in the negotiations, if asked by the workers. If staff ask the union to conduct the election, it must conduct it for all staff of the work group.

The University must negotiate with staff (and relevant unions, if requested) regarding:

  • the HSRs area of representation
  • election procedures
  • intervals at which a HSR is entitled to conduct inspections
  • access by the representative to training.

The Director, OHS Division should also be consulted regarding the area of representation for health and safety representatives.

The University is required to keep a current list of all HSRs and deputy HSRs, and ensure that that the identity and role description of each HSR is displayed in a conspicuous position in the part of the workplace covered by the area of representation.

The OHS Division maintains a list of HSRs on the University OHS website.

8. Training

A HSR does not need any experience or special qualifications to hold the position. However, a HSR is entitled to attend a WHSQ-approved training course, at their discretion. In Queensland, the approved training under section 21 of the Regulation is:

  • QLD Initial Health and Safety Representatives 5 Day Course, and
  • QLD Health and Safety Representatives 1 Day Refresher (annually, commencing one year after the initial training).

A HSR can only issue a provisional improvement notice if they have attended the above-mentioned approved training course.

8.1 University responsibilities

The University must allow a HSR to attend approved training if the HSR requests this.

Within three months of a request for training, the University must give HSRs paid time off to attend a course and pay the course costs and reasonable expenses.

Funding for training would normally be sourced from the relevant Organisational Unit.

9. Role and Function

The role of a HSR is generally limited to their own work group unless there is a serious risk to health or safety (created by an immediate hazard) affecting workers from another work group, or a worker in another work group asks for the HSR's assistance, and the HSR for that other work group is found to be unavailable.

An elected HSR is entitled to perform the following tasks for the work group:

  • undertake workplace inspections
  • review the circumstances of workplace incidents
  • accompany a WHSQ inspector during an inspection
  • represent the work group in health and safety matters
  • attend an interview about health and safety matters with a worker from the work group (with the consent of the worker)
  • request that a health and safety committee be established
  • participate in a health and safety committee
  • monitor compliance measures
  • investigate work health and safety complaints from work group members
  • inquire into any risk to the health and safety of workers in the work group

HSRs who have completed the WHSQ-approved training have an additional power, that is, they are also able to issue provisional improvement notices.

A HSR is not personally liable for anything done, or not done, in good faith while carrying out their role. However any person adversely affected by a decision or action of a HSR can apply to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to have them disqualified.

9.1 University responsibilities

The relevant Faculties, Institutes, Schools and Organisational Units must provide resources, facilities and assistance to enable HSRs and Deputy HSRs to carry out their functions. HSRs must be allowed to exercise their entitlements during their ordinary working hours.

An internal Faculty, Institute, School, Organisational Unit reporting procedure should be established in order to ensure that the HSR is notified in the case of work injury, illness or dangerous event which occurs in the HSR's area of representation.

Mechanisms must be established, and communication pathways defined, to facilitate consultation on work health and safety matters with any HSRs for the work group.

Director, Occupational Health and Safety
Mr Jim Carmichael
Director, Occupational Health and Safety
Mr Jim Carmichael