If you are a union official or employee you must obtain a work health and safety (WHS) entry permit before exercising the right of entry to a workplace.
With this permit you can enter a workplace to:
- inquire into suspected contraventions of the WHS Act that relate to or affect a member of the union or other relevant worker
While you are there (depending on the reason for entry) you may also be able to:
- advise and/or consult with members of the union or the relevant business or employer (or other PCBU) to help resolve concerns related to the suspected contravention of WHS laws
- inspect work systems, plants, substances, structures or other thing relevant to a suspected contravention of the WHS Act
- copy relevant documents
You may also be able to assist health and safety representatives (HRS) if requested, like helping with a workplace inspection.
To obtain a WHS entry permit, your union must apply to the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) as authorising authority with a statutory declaration declaring that you:
- have satisfactorily completed the prescribed work health and safety training that relates to the entry permit
- hold an entry permit under the Fair Work Act 2009 or the Industrial Relations Act 1996
- are a union official or employee
An entry permit is valid for three years but can be revoked if the permit is misused.
Conditions for entering a workplace
No prior notice to the business (or other PCBU) is required if you hold an entry permit and are entering to investigate a suspected contravention of the WHS Act. But you must give notice as soon as it reasonable practicable after entering the workplace unless it would defeat the purpose of the entry or cause unreasonable delay in an urgent case.
However, if the purpose of entry is for consultation and advice or to copy documents, you must give a written notice of entry to the employer or business during usual working hours and at least 24 hours before entry (but not more that 14 days before the entry).
You must have your valid permit and photo identification on you at all times.