Health and safety representatives (HSRs)
Employers or businesses, or anyone who falls under the definition of a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (a PCBU), has legal obligations under work health and safety laws.
It is a serious role and has powers and responsibilities under the sections 68 and 69 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
An HSR and deputy HSR play a pivotal role in gathering information about what the health and safety issues are for their work group. They can work out ways to resolve issues in consultation with PCBU representatives such as managers, supervisors as well as committees and other HSRs.
If an HSR has completed approved HSR training they can direct a worker in the work group to stop unsafe work if they reasonably believe workers would be exposed to a serious risk to their health and safety. This stop-work direction can only be given if the issue has not been resolved by consultation, or if the risk is so serious and immediate or imminent that it's unreasonable to consult first.
An HSR can issue a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) if they reasonably believe there is a contravention of the Act.
Electing a health and safety representative
Workers elect an HSR after agreement on the work groups has been reached.
All workers in a work group are entitled to elect one or more HSRs and deputy HSRs for a three-year term. You must provide any reasonably necessary resources, facilities and assistance to enable an election to be conducted.
Calling for nominees
All workers (and volunteers) are eligible to nominate and be elected as an HSR or deputy HSR for their work group.
A notice calling for nominations needs to be given to workers and workers told the date of the election as soon as practicable after it is determined.
After the nominations have closed an election can be conducted.
You need to make sure:
- each worker in the work group is informed of the election date as soon as possible
- all workers in the work group are given an opportunity to nominate for the position of HSR, and vote in the election
- all workers and relevant employers are informed of the outcome of the election.
A day in the life of an HSR
Is this job for you? HSR's provide a snapshot of what they do and why they do it.
Display the names of the HSRs (and any deputy HSRs), and the work groups, prominently so your workers know who they can contact to discuss safety concerns.
Your obligations to an HSR
As an employer, you must support the HSR by:
- giving them time off at normal pay, and any necessary facilities and assistance, to enable them to fulfil their role
- talking with them about health and safety issues
- giving them access to all information regarding hazards and risks affecting the work group
- allowing them to attend interviews about work health and safety, if the worker consents
- allowing a person assisting the HSR to enter the workplace, if that assistance is necessary
- permitting them to accompany an inspector on an inspection of areas where the workers they represent work
- giving them five days training and a one-day annual refresher course, if requested.
An HSR can be disqualified if they exercised a power or performed a function as an HSR for an improper purpose, or used or disclosed any information acquired as an HSR that is not connection with the role of an HSR.
Provisional Improvement Notices (PINs)
HSRs can act if they believe there is, or has been a contravention of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) that will be repeated.
An HSR can issue a provisional improvement notice in accordance with section 90 of the WHS Act.
A provisional improvement notice tells a person that a contravention to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Act) needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
If you are an HSR and have completed approved HSR training, you can issue a PIN requiring a person to:
- remedy the contravention of the Act
- prevent a likely contravention of the Act from occurring
- remedy the things causing the contravention or likely contravention of the Act.
You must first consult with the employer, or the person with the responsibility to resolve the safety issue, before a PIN can be issued.
We have developed a sample form that can be used as a PIN.
You don’t have to use this form, provided that the PIN is in writing and meets the requirements of the Act.
At least eight days must be allowed between the date that the PIN was issued and the date that the PIN needs to be complied with.
It is possible to request for review of provisional improvement notice.
Directing work to stop
An HSR can direct a worker in the work group to stop unsafe work if they have a reasonable concern there would be a serious health and safety risk to the workers they represent from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.
If possible, they are required to consult with the PCBUbefore directing work to stop. If the risk is so immediate that it's not reasonable to consult first, they can direct the unsafe work to stop and then consult as soon as possible after that.
Training for HSRs
Approved work health and safety training providers help HSRs to understand and fulfil their role and functions.
HSRs are entitled to attend an approved five-day training course in work health and safety and a one day refresher course each year during their term of office.
Find a HSR training provider
You can search online to find an approved HSR training provider.
Becoming a HSR trainer
Training providers who wish to deliver health and safety representative (HSR) training in NSW must first read the approval conditions and ensure that they have sufficient resources to undertake the administrative activities necessary to comply.
There are two options for approval:
Use our course materials
We have developed and approved a standard five-day HSR initial training course and a one day HSR refresher course for delivery in NSW by SafeWork approved training providers. Please refer to this manual for more information.
The application fee is shown in our list of fees and charges
Call our Customer Service Centre on 13 10 50 or email email@example.com for more information.