Health and Safety Representative Role and Function - Procedures

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1.0  Purpose and Scope

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

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

2.0  Process and Key Controls

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 powers and functions are legislated in the Act and Regulation.

The HSR role is separate to that of the Work Health and Safety Coordinator (2.10.04) and Health, Safety and Wellness Manager (2.10.04) positions, however these roles interact collaboratively to achieve improved health and safety at the University.

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.

It is only an obligation to have HSR arrangements in place upon request from the work group or its workers.  That is, UQ has an obligation to establish HSRs where there has been a request for representation or where there has been a request for an election.

3.0  Key Requirements

3.1  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.  Work groups are designated through negotiation and should occur according to sections 51 to 54 of the Act.

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

3.2  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, HSW Division as soon as practicable after being elected.

3.3  Training

A HSR does not need any experience or special qualifications to hold the position. However, from 1 July 2018, a HSR must attend a training course approved by WHSQ, the work health and safety regulator, within six months of their election.  Refresher training must occur every three years. 

Approved HSR training providers are listed on the WHSQ web site.

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

4.0  Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

4.1 University

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.

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) within the organisational unit;
  • 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.

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 HSW 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 (until 1 July 2018).

The Director, HSW 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 of each HSR is displayed in a relevant way in the part of the workplace covered by the area of representation.

The University must ensure the HSRs attend approved training within six months of being elected, and then a refresher course every three years after that while still in the position.

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.

4.2  Health and Safety Representative

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.

5.0      Monitoring, Review and Assurance

Management of local areas are to monitor and review local HSR arrangements (where they exist) on a regular basis (e.g. annually). 

Local management will be supported by the relevant OHS manager and/or Work Health and Safety Coordinator/s.

6.0      Recording and Reporting

Local organisational units must forward up to date details of HSRs and deputy HSRs to the UQ HSW Division.

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

The HSW Division must forward a list of HSRs and deputy HSRs to WHSQ, the work health and safety regulator.

7.0      Appendix

7.1  Definitions, Terms and Acronyms

Act Work Health and Safety Act (Queensland) 2011

HSR - Health and Safety Representative

HSW Division - University Health, Safety and Wellness Division

PIN - Provisional Improvement Notice

Regulation Work Health and Safety Regulation (Queensland) 2011

WHSQ - Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, the Queensland work health and safety regulator

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