HSR Portal

A Health and Safety Representative (HSR) network has been established across the University to represent staff on work health and safety matters. Designated workgroups within the schools and branches were established in order to centralise and streamline the nomination process.

The role of HSRs is important, as it provides a vehicle for consultation and working with a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to resolve identified issues.

HSRs do have legal powers and particular functions which include:

  • representing work groups on health and safety matters
  • investigating complaints about health and safety
  • monitoring PCBU compliance with WHS laws
  • enquiring into anything that appears to pose a risk to health or safety
  • directing unsafe work to cease
  • issuing provisional improvement notices (PINs).

HSRs are entitled to attend approved HSR training sessions to help develop the skills needed to effectively carry out their role. It is recommended that HSRs attend their training as soon as possible after being elected. HSRs who have not completed the required training cannot issue PINs or direct workers to cease unsafe work.

This webpage has been developed to provide the HSR network with resources and tools to support them in their roles. This information is accessible to HSRs only and is not intended to be distributed more broadly.

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  • The election process

    Guidelines for electing a Health & Safety Representative

    The legislation requires that certain procedures be followed when electing Health & Safety Representatives. There may be one or more Health & Safety Representatives, with each representative being elected to represent a particular work group of employees. Each work group is entitled to elect a Health & Safety Representative and a deputy representative. To be effective a Health & Safety Representative will need to have regular and easy contact with members of the work group.

    Who can be involved?

    In relation to decisions about work groups and the election of Health & Safety Representatives and in order to avoid a conflict of interest, any personnel who are employed as managers or supervisors are not regarded as employees. This means that only non-managerial employees can be involved in the decisions unless a majority (51 per cent or more) of these employees decide that it is reasonable to treat a particular manager or supervisor as an employee

    Self-employed contractors are not regarded as employees in relation to decisions about work groups and cannot be involved in this process.

    Revising work groups

    If there is a substantial change in the work group during the term of a Health & Safety Representative, and it is agreed by at least one half (50 per cent or more) of the recognised members of the group that a fresh election should be held, then the Health & Safety Representative should resign and a fresh election must be held.

    Nominations

    • Any recognised members of the work group can nominate or be nominated for the position of Health & Safety Representative.
    • Candidates may nominate themselves or may be nominated by other members.

    Voting

    • If only one person nominates for the position of Health & Safety Representative then no ballot is necessary and the person is declared elected.
    • If more than one nomination is received then the Returning Officer must organise a ballot. The Returning Officer must upload an online ballot form that can be used for the election.

    Returning Officers

    The first step in electing a Health & Safety Representative is the selection of a Returning Officer to conduct the election. At least one half (50 per cent or more) of the recognised members of the work group need to agree on who this will be. A person cannot be a Returning Officer and a candidate for the Health & Safety Representative’s position in the same.

    What does the Returning Officer do?

    As soon as possible after appointment, the Returning Officer must display a notice(s) prominently at the workplace(s) of the work group. The notice must:
    • state the day, time and place of the election
    • invite nominations for candidates
    • give details of how to nominate and when nominations will close
    • workgroups may design their own election notice(s) or obtain proformas:
    • There must be a secret ballot if requested by any member of the work group.
    • If a secret ballot is not requested, voting is by show of hands.

    Counting the votes

    • The candidate who receives the most number of votes is elected as the Health & Safety Representative for the particular work group.
    • Where two or more candidates receive an equal number of votes, the successful candidate is decided by the drawing of lots.

    Deputy Health & Safety Representatives

    The procedure for electing deputy Health & Safety Representatives is not spelt out in the legislation and must be decided by members of the work group involved. Possible options might include:
    • following the election of the representative, and using the same procedure, hold an election for the Deputy’s position
    • declaring the ‘runner-up’ in the representative’s election as the deputy
    • jointly running the election for the representative and the deputy.

    Notification after election

    The Returning Officer will notify the Health & Safety Representative and any Deputy Health & Safety Representative of their election within fourteen days. A registration form will then be issued to the representative. This must be completed and returned to the Returning Officer as soon as possible. This information will be entered on the SafeWork SA websites HSR Portal. The workgroup will be notified of the outcome of the election by the local HSWO. It also enables SafeWork SA to:

    • provide information directly to Health & Safety Representatives
    • have a record of the number of representatives elected, the type of industry they are employed in and other information needed for the development of strategies to improve WHS.
    • confirm the Representative’s position should anyone question their status.

    The HSW Team must also be notified when a Health & Safety Representative or Deputy resigns.

    When are elections necessary?

    As the Representative has a term of office of three years, elections will need to occur every three years. A new election will also be needed if:
    • a Health & Safety Representative resigns or ceases to be a member of the work group that elected them (through transfer, dismissal, promotion, leaving the job, or any other reason)
    • the work groups are re-organised or their composition changes significantly and at least one half (50 per cent or more) of the recognised members of the work group decide a fresh election is necessary
    • at least two-thirds of the recognised members of the work group are dissatisfied with the Representative’s performance and decide to elect a new representative.

    The date of a Health & Safety Representative’s election should be recorded so that another election can be held following the completion of the three-year term of office. A subsequent election should be organised so the time the workgroup is unrepresented is minimised.

    This information about the term of office for a Health & Safety Representative, when a new election is required and disqualification of a representative also applies to a Deputy Health & Safety Representative.

  • HSR training

    Guidelines

    The role of the Health & Safety Representative in the workplace involves the use of powers and functions not available to workers. If they are to represent their workgroup effectively, it is important that Health & Safety Representatives are fully aware of how, where and when to use these powers and functions. To help develop this awareness, representatives should attend an approved elected Health & Safety Representatives training course as soon as possible after being elected.

    Training Entitlements

    University Health & Safety Representatives are entitled to five days leave per year, without loss of income, to attend approved training courses. This makes a total of 15 days training over a three year term of office. Where there is a choice of courses available, a Health & Safety Representative must consult with their employer to ensure the training does not affect business operations, rostering, schedules etc.

    Deputy Health & Safety Representatives

    Deputy Representatives do not have an automatic entitlement to paid training leave and should therefore negotiate with the employer to arrange attendance at a training course. A Deputy Representative will obviously be able to carry out their role more effectively if they have been trained. Therefore, five days training per year, at an approved course, is recommended for Deputy Representatives.

    Available Training

    To correspond with the three periods of training leave; there are three levels of approved Health & Safety Representative training.

    Level 1

    The Level 1 course is a five day introductory course on WHS. It is the first year component of a three-year package and is aimed at empowering elected Health & Safety Representatives to effectively represent their workgroup on WHS matters. The course aims to provide Health & Safety Representatives with a working knowledge of the Act, the Regulations and approved codes of practice. It also aims to assist Health & Safety Representatives to understand the principles of hazard management and the consultation process for resolving work, health and safety issues, and thereby develop positive attitudes to WHS.

    Level 2

    The Level 2 course is a five-day course which aims to develop, reinforce, extend and add to the range of skills and knowledge acquired in the Level 1 course. The course also aims to provide more information on the Act and to further assist Health & Safety Representatives’ understanding of the risk assessment approach to hazard management. A major component of the course is the development of skills necessary to research, prepare and present a case using practical exercises relevant to the needs of the participants.

    The Level 1 and 2 courses can be held on five consecutive days or split into three plus two-day or two plus three-day format. The split format presentation must be completed within a four-week period.

    Level 3 (Review, Revision and Update)

    This level of training is intended for Health & Safety Representatives in their third year of office and is also designed to facilitate training beyond the three years for those Health & Safety Representatives who have been re-elected. The joint training of Health & Safety Representatives and managers/supervisors is an acceptable training approach at this stage.

    The course is structured to allow a significant amount of flexibility to enable Representatives to choose topics that are most relevant to them, their workgroup and their workplace.

    The Representative may participate in approved workshops, seminars and/or specialist conferences held either on consecutive days or throughout the year.

    Arranging Training

    Health & Safety Representatives may make direct arrangements with training providers to attend a course. However, in some situations someone else may arrange a Representative’s attendance at a training course. Where there are enough Representatives at one workplace, arrangements may be made with an approved course provider to conduct the training on-site.

    However, Health & Safety Representatives are ultimately responsible for organising their own training and while they are required to consult with the employer, Representatives make the final decision about which course they will attend.

    Training Providers

    There are several approved Health & Safety Representative training providers used by the University ie,

  • Functions and rights

    The Work, Health and Safety Act, 2012, states that a group of employees may elect a person to represent them on health, safety and welfare issues. The group of employees is called the work group and the person they elect to represent them is called a Health & Safety Representative.

    Health & Safety Representatives have a vital role to play in assisting employees to have health, safety and welfare issues raised. Through their own experience in the workplace, representatives have a practical understanding of the health and safety problems that employees experience and can contribute suggestions about ways to resolve these problems.

    Health & Safety Representatives have legal rights and functions to assist them to carry out their role effectively. The WHS Act states that employers cannot discriminate against Health & Safety Representatives for performing any of their functions. Any employer who intimidates, dismisses or threatens a Health & Safety Representative may be fined up to $20,000. A Health & Safety Representative can only take action on health and safety issues affecting employees in the representative’s own work group.

    A Health & Safety Representative is entitled to:

    • inspect the workplace at any time after giving reasonable notice to the employer or immediately if there is an incident, dangerous occurrence, imminent danger or risk to the health, safety or welfare of a member of the representative’s work group. The representative must be advised immediately by the employer if any of these things happen.
    • during an inspection of the workplace, discuss any matter affecting health, safety or welfare with any employee at the workplace and carry out appropriate investigations.
    • be accompanied by a consultant (approved by the Minister, the employer or a relevant health and safety committee) in an inspection of the workplace.
    • accompany an inspector of SafeWork SA during an inspection of the workplace.
    • investigate complaints on health, safety or welfare made by employees in the work group.
    • have access to information about risks to health and safety that may arise, in any work or from any plant or substances, which may affect members of the representative's work group.
    • have access to information about the health and safety of employees with the employee’s consent.
    • raise any issue affecting the health, safety or welfare of members of the work group, with the employer.
    • if requested by an employee in the work group, be present at any interview about health and safety between the employee and the employer or the employee and a government inspector.
    • be consulted about proposed changes to the work, the workplace, plant or substances used, which may affect the health, safety or welfare of employees in the Representative's work group.
    • be consulted about policies, practices and procedures on health, safety and welfare, and on any proposed changes to these.
    • be consulted about any proposed application to SafeWork SA for modification of requirements of any regulation.
    • issue a default notice to require that action is taken to resolve a health and safety problem.
    • direct that work cease if there is an immediate threat to the health and safety of an employee in the work group until adequate measures are taken to protect the employee.
    • be provided with facilities and assistance to enable the Health & Safety Representative to perform his or her functions under the Act.

    Health & Safety Representatives do not have any legal liability for their actions, or lack of action on any matter in their role as Health & Safety Representative. However, if a representative is found guilty of using their powers or information obtained, for an improper purpose, the representative may be fined up to $10,000.

    It is recommended that HSRs attend training as soon as possible after being elected to enable them to be more effective in their functions.

    RTWSA provides support for HSRs through their Workplace Liaison Officer. The University HSW Team can also assist HSRs in their role.

  • Resolution of HSW issues

    The WHS Act gives Health & Safety Representatives the authority to raise health and safety issues with management on behalf of employees in the work group they represent. The Act also outlines a process for Health & Safety Representatives to use when they identify health and safety problems that affect members of their work group. If a Health & Safety Representative believes that the Act or Regulations are being breached, they may initiate the certain procedures to protect the health, safety or welfare of a member of the Representative’s work group.

    Consultation

    • A vital first step that must be taken by the Health & Safety Representative is to consult with the employer to try to resolve the problem. Consultation involves the Representative informing the employer of the issue and providing information about why he/she believes there is a problem.
    • If the problem cannot be resolved by consultation between the employer and the Health & Safety Representative within a reasonable period of time, the Representative must refer the matter to the Health & Safety Committee (if there is one) responsible for the affected area.
    • If there is no committee, the problem may be referred to a SafeWork SA Inspector, who must attend within seven business days.

    However, there may be some circumstances where the Representative may not refer the matter to the Committee for further action. For example, where every reasonable effort has been made to resolve the problem by consultation with the employer (as described above) or where it has not been possible to arrange a meeting of the Committee. If after taking reasonable steps to stop the breach of the Act or Regulations by consultation, the Health & Safety Representative still considers that the problem has not been satisfactorily resolved, then the Representative may issue a default notice requiring the employer to remedy the breach.

    Issue of Default Notice

    A default notice is an official declaration by the Health & Safety Representative that, in his or her opinion, provisions of the Act or Regulations are being breached and that it has not been possible to resolve the problem by consultation. A default notice must not be issued on any matter that is already the subject of an improvement or prohibition notice issued by an inspector.

    Detailed information on the issue of default notices is provided during Level 1 training.

    Procedure for an Immediate Threat to Health, Safety and Welfare

    Whenever possible, a Health & Safety Representative must consult with the employer if he or she believes there is an immediate threat to the health, safety or welfare of an employee.

    If the problem cannot be resolved by consultation within a reasonable period of time, the matter must be referred to a Health & Safety Committee that is responsible for the affected area. If there is no Health & Safety Committee, the problem must be referred to a SafeWork SA Inspector.

    If an immediate threat to health and safety is not resolved through consultation within a reasonable time, the Health & Safety Representative may direct that the unsafe work stops if they believe that the nature of the threat and the degree of risk warrants this. The order to stop unsafe work procedure is then followed.

    Detailed information on stopping unsafe work is provided during Level 1 training.

    If a SafeWork SA Inspector enters the workplace the relevant Health & Safety Representative is entitled to accompany the inspector during the inspection.

  • Support for HSRs - approved WHS consultants

    Health & Safety Consultants can provide expertise in specific areas, for example atmospheric monitoring or specialist information and advice on health and safety issues. Their separation from the workplace means that they can provide an independent viewpoint in the resolution of WHS problems.

    During an inspection of the workplace, Health & Safety Representatives can be accompanied by a consultant who has been approved by:
    • the Minister for Government Enterprises
    • an WHS Committee with responsibilities in relation to the workgroup that the WHS represents
    • the Health & Safety Representative’s employer.

    An employer is not liable for the cost of a consultant attending a workplace to accompany a Health & Safety Representative on an inspection. Therefore, to enable access to consultants, the Minister has approved a core group of non-charging consultants for Health & Safety Representatives. Contact the Workplace Liaison Officer on (08) 8233 2222 or check the RTWSA website to obtain a complete listing of consultants available to Health & Safety Representatives