About health and safety representatives and consultation
The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) recognises the important role health and safety representatives (HSRs) play in representing the health and safety interests of employees. HSRs have been an important feature of occupational health and safety (OHS) in Victoria since 1985 and it is widely acknowledged that HSRs can make a real difference in having health and safety issues addressed and help achieve better health and safety outcomes.
WorkSafe strongly believes in the importance of the role of HSRs, and actively encourages all Victorian businesses to establish designated work groups and support the election of HSRs.
Health and safety in the workplace matters to everyone, and WorkSafe encourages all employers, HSRs, employees and their families to regularly talk about it and then act to improve safety in their workplace.
What is a HSR?
A HSR is an employee who has been elected by the members of their Designated Work Group (DWG) to represent them, providing a way for their views and concerns about health and safety to be heard by their employer. The following documents provide more information on the role of HSRs:
- Guide for HSRs on consultation, representation and issue resolution (PDF 62kb)
- Guide for workers on consultation, representation and issue resolution (PDF 109kb)
Why have HSRs?
Research shows that when employees have input into health and safety, workplaces have better health and safety outcomes. This means fewer workplace incidents and injuries.
How to become a HSR
HSRs are elected by employees who are members of their Designated Work Group (DWG).
Designated work groups
A Designated Work Group (DWG) is an agreed or determined grouping of employees who share similar workplace health and safety interests and conditions. A DWG may be made up of employees in one or more workplaces operated by a single employer or employees of multiple employers at one or more workplaces. There can be more than one DWG in a workplace. .
A health and safety representative(s) (HSR) is a person who has been elected by the members of his or her DWG to represent their occupational health and safety (OHS) issues, concerns and interests.
HSRs are elected by their DWG to represent them in health and safety matters. For more information:
A safe workplace is more easily achieved when employers and HSRs regularly talk to each other about potential problems, and work together to find solutions.
Consulting with HSRs
The law requires employers to consult with employees on OHS matters affecting them, and where a HSR exists, consultation must involve the HSR (with or without the employees being involved directly). An employer telling the HSR what will happen after a decision is made is not consultation.
The matters an employer must consult on are:
- identifying and assessing hazards or risks to health and safety in the workplace;
- making decisions to control risks to health and safety in the workplace;
- changes proposed to be implemented that may affect the health and safety of employees;
- policies and procedures proposed to be introduced; and
- making decisions about facilities for the welfare of employees.
Therefore in consulting with a HSR an employer must:
- Share information with the HSR about the OHS matter.
This information should be provided in a timely way so that the HSR has adequate time to consider the matter.
- Give the HSR a reasonable opportunity to express their views about the matter.
HSRs should be encouraged to ask questions, raise concerns, propose options, make recommendations and be part of the problem-solving process.
- Take the HSR's views into account.
The views, suggestions and concerns of the HSR must be taken into account by the employer before a final decision is made.
- Meet with the HSR to consult about the matter.
The employer can invite the HSR to meet with them to consult about the matter, or the HSR can request a meeting with the employer.
More information on:
- what matters employers must consult about
- who must be consulted (including how to involve HSRs in consultation)
- what consultation involves
- different ways that consultation can occur, and
- developing procedures for consulting on health and safety and on other health and safety procedures is available in the following publications:
Further information and support for HSRs is also available by calling the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 or (03) 9641 1444 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org