What does a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) do?
The role of a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) can be a very important and valuable position.
A HSR is an elected representative of a work group (a group of workers within an organisation) that have the role to represent the health and safety interests of that work group within the business they are employed (this refers to the PCBU or the person conducting a business or undertaking).
The Health and Safety Representative (HSR) Role
The position may seem quite daunting on first investigation, but the objective is quite clear for the HSR position. The Health and Safety Representative has the role to represent the work group in health and safety matters.
This representative role essentially means that you are working and listening to your work group members about their health and safety issues and conveying these to the employer or PCBU. The HSR may be involved in conveying information, participating in risk assessments, providing feedback on solutions implemented and working with the PCBU in investigations. Of all these functions, one of the most important roles is to participate in the identification of solutions to safety issues in the workplace and conveying feedback to the employer or PCBU. Just to be certain, it is not the role of the HSR to find all the solutions to the issues but to be part of the identification and monitoring process. The Health and Safety Representative is not expected to be the expert in all situations but can have valuable input into the improvement in workplace health and safety.
As you can expect in this role, communication between all parties in a workplace is a big part of the role. This could mean understanding the issue within your work group and informing the workplace of these issues, working with Supervisors and Management of the PCBU to identify solutions and help with information being passed back to the work group, and working with content experts (such as health and safety consultants) to explain processes within a workplace.
Powers and functions of the Health and Safety Representative
The powers and functions of a Health and Safety Representative are similar between all states and jurisdictions in Australia and we recommend you take a look at the relevant information provided in your jurisdiction. The following has been provided for an initial understanding of the functions of a Health and Safety Representative.
- In most instances you will only represent your work group;
- Participate in workplace inspections;
- Review incidents in the workplace with the PCBU;
- Assist an Inspector from your Health and Safety Authority;
- Understand complaints about WHS concerns raised by the work group;
- Represent your work group to the PCBU when health and safety issues arise;
- Participate in a health and safety committee;
- Monitor workplace improvements implemented by the PCBU;
- Issue Provisional Improvement Notices where appropriate.
The workplace Health and Safety Representative is a very valuable position and can have great impact on creating a safe workplace for all.
Training is available for the position so just check your requirements in the jurisdiction you work in for further details. Below is a list of websites to assist.
New South Wales – Safework New South Wales
Queensland – Worksafe Queensland
Victoria – Worksafe Victoria
South Australia – Safework South Australia
Western Australia – Worksafe Western Australia
Tasmania – Worksafe Tasmania
Northern Territory (NT) – Worksafe Northern Territory
Comcare – Comcare HSR