Health and safety representatives (HSR's)
Health and Safety Representatives (HSR’s) are important role within Northern Territory workplaces. Worker representation provides a means for facilitating consultation, involving workers and giving them a voice in health and safety matters. The Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (the Act) recognises that workplaces have better health and safety outcomes when workers have the opportunity to contribute before decisions are made about health and safety matters that affect them.
Functions and powers of a HSR
HSR’s facilitate the flow of information about health and safety between the person conducting a business or undertaking (the PBCU) and the workers. A duly elected HSR is entitled to perform the following tasks for the work group:
- undertake workplace inspections
- review the circumstances of workplace incidents
- accompany a NT WorkSafe inspector during an inspection
- represent the work group of whom they represent in health and safety matters
- attend an interview about health and safety matters with a worker from the work group (with the consent of the worker)
- request that a health and safety committee be established
- participate in a health and safety committee
- monitor compliance measures
- investigate work health and safety complaints from work group members
- inquire into any risk to the health and safety of workers within their work group.
If a HSR has completed approved HSR training, they can direct unsafe work to stop when they have a reasonable concern that carrying out the work would expose a worker to a serious risk.
HSRs can also issue a ‘provisional improvement notice’ (PIN) when they reasonably believe there is a contravention of the Act.
Employer obligations to HSR's
Employer must ensure that a health and safety representative is afforded the ability to:
- allow the HSR adequate time at normal pay to carry out their role
- consult with the HSR on work health and safety issues (for example, when proposing measures to eliminate or minimise risks)
- allow the HSR access to information about hazards and risks at the workplace as well as information relating to the health and safety of workers at the workplace (excluding workers' personal or medical information without the workers' consent)
- allow the HSR to be present at an interview relating to work health and safety issues if a worker consents
- provide the resources, facilities and assistance that are reasonably necessary for them to perform their functions
- allow any person assisting the HSR, access to the workplace as necessary
- permit the HSR to accompany an inspector on an inspection
- grant five days initial training for the HSR, if requested, with a training provider approved by NT WorkSafe and, grant a one day annual refresher training if requested.
Notifying NT WorkSafe
You must inform NT WorkSafe who your HSR and deputy HSRs are (Section 74 of the Act).
The names of the HSRs (and any deputy HSRs), must be prominently displayed so your workers know who they can contact to discuss work health and safety concerns. For information on how to notify NT WorkSafe visit the HSR notification page.
Frequently Asked Questions
What cost does the PCBU have to pay?
The PCBU must pay the course fees and any other reasonable costs associated with the HSRs attendance at the course of training.
Any time that a HSR spends, for the purposes of exercising his or her powers or performing his or her functions under the Act, the PCBU must pay the worker what he or she would otherwise be entitled to receive for performing his or her normal duties during that period.
Is a HSR responsible for ensuring health and safety in the workplace?
No. The ultimate responsibility for providing a healthy and safety workplace sits with the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU).
When can refresher training be taken?
Refresher training may be taken any time after 12 months from the initial five day training course and again at least 12 months after that until the HSR ceases to hold office.
How long does a HSR hold office?
A HSR holds office for 3 years unless they:
- resign as the HSR by written notice given to the PCBU;
- the person ceases to be a worker in the relevant work group;
- the person is disqualified under section 65 of the Act; or
- the person is removed from that position by a majority of the work group members.
Can a HSR be re-elected?
Yes, a HSR can be re-elected.
What is a work group?
A work group is a group of workers who share a similar work situation. The HSR represents the health and safety interests of the workers in that group. There may be more than one work group at a workplace based on factors such as:
- the nature of the hazards and risks of the work being carried out;
- the areas where work is carried out;
- the times when work is carried out.
Can HSRs exercise their powers and functions before being trained?
A HSR can only issue a PIN or instruct the cessation of unsafe work if they have completed the approved five day approved training course.
The purpose of a PIN
Allowing a HSR to issue a PIN provides an alternative option to attendance by a NT WorkSafe inspector when there is a WHS issue affecting the work group . A PIN is simply a ‘tool’ for the HSR to use which is enforceable and typically an inspector will only become involved if there is a dispute or non-compliance with the PIN.
Related Forms and Resources
|Application to update trainer details - HSR training provider|
|Approval to deliver HSR training in the NT|
|Notification of health and representative (HSR) training course|
|Provisional improvement notice (PIN)|