Duties: Health & Safety & Deputy Health & Safety representatives

Health and safety representatives (HSRs) represent the WHS interests of employees in the Designated Work Groups (DWGs). They are elected for a term of three years and perform an important role in helping communication/consultation between ANU and staff.

HSRs have no duties under the Work Health and Safety Act. Nor are they personally liable for anything they do or omit to do in good faith:

  • in exercising a power or performing a function under the Act or
  • in the reasonable belief that the thing was done or omitted to be done in the exercise of a power or the performance of a function under the Act.

Electing Deputy HSRs (DHSRs) is optional. DHSRs are useful for performing the role of the HSR in the HSR's absence. Most, but not all, rules about HSRs apply to DHSRs.

Sections 68 and 69 of the Work Health and Safety Act provide the powers and functions of HSRs. The powers of the HSR generally only apply to the DWG which they represent. The DHSR has the same powers as the HSR, when the HSR cannot exercise these powers because of their absence or some other reason.

HSRs have the following powers and functions under the legislation:

  • represent the workers in the DWG in matters relating to work health and safety
  • monitor the measures taken by the University or the University's representative in compliance with the Act in relation to workers in the DWG
  • investigate complaints from members of the DWG relating to work health and safety
  • inquire into anything that appears to be a risk to the health or safety of workers in the DWG, arising from the conduct of the University.

HSRs may:

  • inspect the workplace or any part of the workplace at which a worker in the DWG works:
    • at any time after giving reasonable notice to that workplace
    • at any time, without notice, in the event of an incident, or any situation involving a serious risk to the health or safety of a person emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard
  • accompany an inspector during an inspection of the workplace or part of the workplace at which a worker in the DWG works
  • with the consent of a worker that the HSR represents, be present at an interview concerning work health and safety between the worker and:
    • an inspector or
    • the worker's supervisor or manager
  • with the consent of one or more workers that the HSR represents, be present at an interview concerning work health and safety between a group of workers, which includes the workers who gave the consent, and:
    • an inspector or
    • the University's representative
  • request the establishment of a health and safety committee
  • receive information concerning the work health and safety of workers in the DWG
  • whenever necessary, request the assistance of any person.

Note. A health and safety representative also has a power to direct work to cease in certain circumstances and to issue provisional improvement notices.

See: Sections 50 -74 of the Act for further details on HSRs.