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The importance of Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs)

Posted by Andy Perry on 9 March 2022

The importance of Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs)

WorkSafe Victoria delivered an information forum recently that outlined HSRs and WorkSafe’s Strategic Plan. This document described some of the preconceptions that some employers or managers may have toward HSRs. For example: The role and responsibilities of HSRs (often confusing them with OHS officers/managers).

A HSR is a voluntary position that can contribute towards a proactive culture within the organisation. Generally, they are the conduit for information between employees through the establishment of Designated Work Group (DWG) and management representatives, to ensure safety issues are raised and resolved within a timely through an effective consultative process.

HAZCON believes employers and/or managers should have clear understanding of the HSR’s powers as described in the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section 58. As HSRs are not obligated to do anything and have no legal duties or obligations acting in accordance with their powers. Moreover, section 22 states the employer must employ or engage persons who are suitably qualified in relation to occupational health and safety to provide advice to the employer concerning health and safety.

https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/in-force/acts/occupational-health-and-safety-act-2004

Another interesting issue we hear often, is when newly elected HSR’s attends the initial HSR five-day training course, they do not know, if a DWG has been established, and what group of people they are representing.

The WorkSafe Employee Representation Handbook outlines, a DWG is negotiated and agreed grouping of employees who, for example, perform the same or similar types of work or share similar workplace health and safety interests and conditions.  A DWG is established to form the electorate that may elect HSRs. An HSR is a person who has been elected by the members of the DWG to represent them on OHS issues.

https://content.api.worksafe.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-09/ISBN-Employee-representation-handbook-for-workplaces-2021-09.pdf

HAZCON provides a range of leadership and management courses that can be specifically customised to meet industry standards and client expectations. These courses are designed to provide officers, managers and supervisors with the necessary knowledge, information and tools to be able to successfully manage health and safety at work.

https://www.hazcon.com.au/training.html

Author:Andy Perry

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