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Managing health and safety your role as a manager/ supervisor

Posted by Richard Forster on 3 September 2019


The guidance below has been provided by WorkSafe Victoria to assist in determining competency of managers to manage health and safety. See how your managers stack up against the dot points below.

If the employer appoints its own representative for the purpose of issue resolution, the employer must ensure the person is not a Health and Safety Representative. The employer representative must also have an appropriate level of seniority and must be sufficiently competent to act as the employer's representative.

For effective issue resolution to occur, an employer representative should have the necessary authority to resolve any OHS issues on behalf of the employer. This should be reflected in the employer representative's position in the organisational hierarchy and position description so as to avoid any confusion. 'Sufficiently competent' for the purpose of health and safety issue resolution means that the employer representative has an understanding of how the OHS Act and regulations apply to their workplace and is knowledgeable in relation to the operations of the workplace for which the employer representative has responsibility. These elements are explained in more detail below. WorkSafe Victoria considers the following range of competencies is required of an employer representative in order to carry out their role under the OHS Act:

a general knowledge of the OHS Act;

  • understanding of the health and safety issue resolution process and the role of agreed procedures and regulations;
  • understanding of the employer duties under OHS legislation and the concept of reasonable practicability;
  • understanding of the role and functions of HSRs and authorised representatives of registered employee organisations;
  • understanding of the role of inspectors, their powers and issue resolution functions
  • understanding of how the workplace operates;
  • communication, consultation and negotiation skills;
  • understanding of the process of resolution when an inspector arrives on site;
  • general understanding of OHS issues and systems specific to that workplace;
  • understanding of the hazard identification and risk assessment processes and, in particular, the ability to identify appropriate risk control measures available to the employer; and
  • ability to get access (within the organisation and externally) to expert technical information and advice in relation to specific hazards.

Ways in which employer representatives can attain these competencies include OHS training, general management training, work experience and mentoring programs. It is the employer's responsibility to determine the competence of the employer representative prior to the appointment of that person. It is advisable that the employer representative's OHS performance be incorporated into performance appraisal systems.

Further details on training that may assist with this matter (including dates and locations) can be found here https://www.hazcon.com.au/ohs-training-for-managers---supervisors.html

Note: Next scheduled course OHS for managers and supervisors is Melbourne CBD 10th & 11th September 2019

Author: Richard Forster
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