Health and safety representative (HSR)
On 1 January 2012 Queensland implemented the nationally harmonised Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) (the Act), which includes new training requirements for HSR's.
Transitional arrangements during 2012
Current workplace health and safety representatives (irrespective of having completed course 30630QLD - Functioning as a Workplace Health and Safety Representative) will be able to exercise all powers vested in them under the new WHS laws for a transitional period of 12 months expiring on the 31 December 2012.
Existing HSRs who have completed 30630QLD will need to complete a bridging course (covering provisional improvement notices, cease work and a legislation update) in order to continue to exercise the powers vested in them after 31 December 2012. Existing HSRs who had their entitlement to issue PINS suspended or cancelled remain suspended or cancelled (either for the period of suspension or indefinitely).
Existing HSRs who have not completed 30630QLD will need to undertake a 5 day HSR training course in order to continue to exercise the powers vested in them after 31 December 2012.
Newly elected HSRs elected by their co-workers to represent them on workplace health and safety issues are entitled to attend the following courses of paid training under Section 21 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011:
- an initial course of training of 5 days
- one day’s refresher training each year commencing 1 year after the initial training.
Under the Act, the elected HSR has the capacity to:
- represent the workers in matters relating to work health and safety
- investigate complains or anything that appears to be a risk relating to worker work health and safety
- direct unsafe work to cease under Section 85 of the Act
- issue provisional improvement notices (PIN) under Section 90 of the Act.
In performance of the functions relating to the work health and safety of the workers the HSR may:
- undertake workplace inspections
- accompany an inspector during an inspection of the workplace
- be present at an interview relating to health and safety matters with the consent of the worker/s
- request the establishment and participate in a health and safety committee
- report hazards
- review incidents.
After conducting an internal investigation a HSR may:
- make recommendations in the hazard report form 2003 (PDF, 90 KB)
- provide the form to the employer (HSRs must keep a copy)
- issue a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) depending on the circumstances surrounding the issue being investigated.
A HSR does not need any experience or special qualifications, however they are entitled to paid training if requested. Only HSRs who have been trained by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in issuing PINs can issue PINs in their own workplace.
A PIN is a written direction from a HSR to an employer (or employer representative) requiring them to fix a workplace health and safety problem. A PIN is a legal document and is designed to improve health and safety in a workplace, encouraging employers and workers to openly discuss health and safety hazards and risks.
If the issues are not satisfactorily resolved by the HSR and the employer or self-employed person, the HSR may notify a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Inspector. WHSQ Inspectors can be found in all regional offices.
Direct unsafe work to cease
A HSR can only direct that work cease if the HSR has completed initial HSR training.
If a HSR has a reasonable concern that in carrying out work, workers in their work group would be exposed to a serious health and safety risk, the HSR can either:
- issue the directive to cease hazardous work if, after consultation with the person conductiong a business or undertaking (PCBU) and attempting to resolve the risk, the issue remains unresolved Or
- if the risk is so serious and immediate that it is not reasonable to consult the PCBU first, the HSR can direct workers to cease work without consultation.
The HSR must, in all instances, inform the PCBU of any direction given by the HSR to workers to cease unsafe work.
A worker is not obliged to follow the direction of a HSR and may elect to continue work.