Health and safety representatives (HSRs) help maintain a safer work environment by representing the rights of their fellow workers. The HSR can address health and safety concerns and has the right to direct work to stop. However, to receive these powers, the HSR needs to complete an approved health and safety representative training course.
What Is the Role of the HSR?
A health and safety representative acts as an intermediary between the workgroup and the PCBU. The HSR also has powers granted under Schedule 3 of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act. These powers include the right to:
- Accompany inspectors during OHS inspections
- Inspect the workplace
- Represent fellow workers
- Submit requests for inspections
- Examine the health and safety committee records
- Investigate health and safety complaints
- Issue a provisional improvement notice
- Direct work to stop
The last two rights are the ones that people often associate with HSRs. The provisional improvement notice (PIN) is issued when the representative discovers a potential hazard in the workplace. It is a tool used to encourage workers and employers to discuss safety issues.
The right to direct work to stop is only to be used after detecting a severe threat to the safety of workers within the workgroup. It is typically used when a supervisor is unavailable to direct work to stop. The HSR needs to consult with the PCBU before directing work to stop unless the potential risk is immediate.
Who Should Attend HSR Training?
Anyone elected to represent their workgroup as a health and safety representative needs to complete the HSR training. Without this training, the representative does not receive the powers discussed above. HSR deputies may also attend the training.
According to WHS laws, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) needs to give HSRs and deputies time off to complete the training. After electing a health and safety representative, the PCBU has three months to comply with a request for time off. The PCBU also needs to cover the cost of training for the HSR.
A representative is elected by his or her workgroup. Part of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 covers the provisions and requirements for electing HSRs. Any worker can ask their PCBU to facilitate the election of one or more representatives.
After presenting the PCBU with a request for an HSR, the PCBU needs to negotiate with workers to define the workgroup. This must be completed within 14 days. The PCBU then notifies workers of the outcome of the negotiations.
The workers within a workgroup hold an election. The PCBU needs to provide resources and assistance for this process, ensuring that every worker can elect someone and vote in the election.
The elected person holds office for three years unless he or she resigns or ceases to work within the workgroup that the HSR represents. The workgroup may also choose to remove a representative if the group reaches a majority decision.
What Does the Health and Safety Representative Training Include?
The training provides HSRs with the knowledge and skills to carry out their duties and responsibilities within their workgroup. It allows you to promote the health and safety of your fellow workers. After completing the course, you should have the confidence and skills needed to address safety issues.
Some of the topics include:
- Introduction to workplace safety
- Introduction to the WHS Act
- Understanding the role of the HSR
- Hazard management procedures
- Health and safety committees
After completing this program, you should understand your rights and powers as a health and safety representative. The training is not a requirement. However, the training is mandatory if you want to have the power to issue a PIN or direct work stoppage.
How Long Is HSR Training Darwin Courses?
The initial training course lasts for five days. This is a requirement under the WHS Act. The course needs to include at least 35 hours of instruction, separated into five seven-hour programs.
The five-day training program covers the complete roles and responsibilities of the representative. The online refresher program does not take the same amount of time to complete. Most of the elected representatives complete the online programs within four to five hours.
What Is the Cost of HSR Training in Darwin?
AlertForce offers four different HSR training courses. These options include face-to-face training and refreshers, including separate Comcare HSR training programs. Enquire today to discover the current cost of the program that you need to enrol in.
What Are the Learning Outcomes?
The learning outcomes include details related to the rights and responsibilities of the HSR, the PCBU, and supervisors. Some of the main course contents include:
- The latest WHS legislation related to the role of the HSR
- How to identify legislative duties and obligations
- Understanding the function and powers of the HSR
- How to undertake the role of the HSR within workgroups
- How to issue PINs and direct unsafe work to stop
After completing the program, you receive a certificate of attendance. The course does not include a formal assessment.
Basically, the HSR monitors the PCBU for compliance with the WHS Act. The HSR also investigates any complaints from within the represented workgroup. Representatives also perform inspections to help detect any hazards that may pose a threat to workers within the workgroup.
If you have recently been elected, talk to your employer about the training program. Remember that the PCBU has three months to provide time off and needs to cover the cost of the training.
You can get more information on HSR Training here.
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