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:

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.

Electing HSRs

HSRs are elected by their DWG to represent them in health and safety matters. For more information:

Consultation

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:

Therefore in consulting with a HSR an employer must:

While employers, HSRs and employees should aim to reach agreement as a result of consultation, agreement is not a required outcome of the OHS Act. The employer is still ultimately responsible for making decisions about health and safety and controlling risk so far as is reasonably practicable.

More information on:

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: info@worksafe.vic.gov.au