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Understanding the roles of Health and Safety Representatives and Employer (or Management) Representatives

Posted by RichardForster on 7 February 2017

The role of Health and safety Representatives (HSRs) is enshrined in health and safety laws across Australia. HSRs have the right to be trained (an initial course) and then receive refresher training on an annual basis. The training itself is approved by the regulator and is designed to enable HSRs to operate effectively within the workplace when using their powers. HSRs have no responsibility (that is, they are not duty holders and have no function in that capacity).

In summary, HSRs can:

  • Be consulted on health and safety issues that affect their designated work group (that is the group of people who elected the HSR and whom the HSR represents)
  • Inspect the workplace
  • Accompany an inspector
  • Require the establishment of a Health and Safety Committee
  • Participate in issue resolution
  • Attend interviews on health and safety matters with an inspector or employer
  • Whenever necessary, seek the assistance of any person
  • After consultation, issue a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN)
  • In certain situations, direct that the work ceases

Broadly speaking, the HSR may do any of the above only for the purposes of:

  • Representing their designated work group
  • Monitoring measures to comply with health and safety legislation
  • Enquiring into anything that may pose a risk to members of their designated work group
  • Attempting to resolve issues concerning their designated work group

The role of the Management Representative (generally taken to be the person who liaises with HSRs) may not be detailed as comprehensively in health and safety legislation but managers are duty holders and there is comprehensive guidance that is summarised below, on what is required of an employer/ management representative;

  • a general knowledge of the relevant OHS/WHS Act;
  • an understanding of the health and safety issue resolution process and the role of agreed procedures and regulations;
  • an understanding of the employer duties under OHS/WHS legislation and the concept of reasonable practicability;
  • an understanding of the role and functions of HSRs;
  • an understanding of the role of inspectors, their powers and issue resolution functions;
  • an understanding of how the workplace operates;
  • communication, consultation and negotiation skills;
  • an understanding of the process of resolution when an inspector arrives on site;
  • a general understanding of OHS issues and systems specific to that workplace;
  • an understanding of the risk management process; and
  • an ability to get access (within the organisation and externally) to expert technical information and advice in relation to specific hazards.

The knowledge and skills may be obtained via health and safety training programs, general management training, work experience and mentoring programs.

A training needs analysis is a great way of formally identifying what training is required and by whom, within any organisation. Please refer to the HAZCON blog for more information on what this entails.

Further details on specific courses related to HSRs and Employer/ Management Representatives can be found on our website via the following links:

OHS Training for managers and supervisors
HSR Initial OHS training course
HSR Refresher OHS training course 

In addition, HAZCON is also able to tailor specific training courses for management and HSRs that focus solely on your health and safety plans and procedures. This forum based training is popular with organisations seeking to implement change that has health and safety implications.

HAZCON personnel are happy to discuss how we can assist your organisation in training both HSRs and Employer/Management Representatives. Please contact us on 1800 429 266 or hazcon@hazcon.com.au

Author: RichardForster
Tags: Richard Forster

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