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Health and Safety representatives and committee members should:

 

  • Become familiar with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
  • Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (the Regulation). As yet, there is no Work Health and Safety Code of Practice for Committees
  • Consider whether an WHS Committee is the most appropriate consultation arrangement for health and safety matters in your workplace
  • Determine the composition of the WHS Committee, ensure that different workgroups are adequately represented
  • Consult and educate managers and employees to let them know the WHS Committee’s purpose, start date and their role in supporting the Committee
  • It is beneficial to consider inviting sub-contractors and their employees to observe Committee meetings, particularly when common WHS issues arise.
  • Committee members should be allowed to invite a delegate from a trade union or employer association to a Committee meeting. The delegate may address the meeting if the Chairperson agrees.
  • There are no formal qualifications required of Committee members, however the following characteristics would be beneficial in Committee representatives:
    • Ability to effectively represent members of the workgroup
    • Ability to see other viewpoints
    • Commitment to improving the management of WHS
    • Communication skills
  • Explain to employees what is involved in being on an HS Committee and what training will be provided if they are elected or appointed

 

HS representatives

 

A WHS representative is elected when they are a member of the workgroup; and not eligible if they have been disqualified (Section 60) by the Magistrates Courts if they performed an act for an improper purpose; or disclosed information that they should not have provided outside their role health and safety representative (Section 65).  When performing their duties, health and safety representatives are not personally liable for anything done or left out when performing their task and acted in the belief that they performed their tasks as per the Act (Section 66).

 

The responsibility of the health and safety representatives includes:

    • Represent workers in the work group in matters relating to work health and safety;
    • Monitor the process in place to ensure that compliance  occurs in relation to the workers of the group
    • To investigate the complaints of the members of their workgroup; and
    • To ask if there are any risks to the health and safety of workers arising from the conduct and actions of the business.

To perform these tasks, HS representatives may need to:

    • Inspect the workplace at any time after giving reasonable notice and without notice in the event of any incident or situation that places members of the workgroup at risk
    • Attend an inspector during an inspection at which they work; including be:
      • Present during an interview between a worker and an inspector; or
      • The person conducting the business or undertaking
    • With the consent of one of more workers that the health and safety represents, be present at an interview concerning work health and safety between the groups of workers including the workers who gave their consent (Section 68).
The health and safety representative cannot however, access any personal or medical information without identifying the worker and could not be reasonable expected to lead to the identification of the worker.