Health and safety representative training

Find health and safety representatives (HSR) training and know what you're entitled to.

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To exercise powers and rights as an HSR effectively, it is important that HSRs (and if applicable), any deputy HSR (DHSR) receive training. This will provide HSRs with the skills, knowledge and confidence to represent the members of their DWG.

HSRs have an entitlement to attend initial and refresher training if they ask to attend these courses, however it is not compulsory for HSRs to be trained. WorkSafe actively encourages HSRs to take up their training entitlements.

HSR training is not intended to train HSRs to be health and safety professionals or to fulfil an employer's obligations in relation to OHS.

Although the course is designed for HSRs, managers, supervisors, health and safety committee members and anyone with an interest in health and safety could also benefit from attending an HSR training course.

What the OHS Act says about HSR training

Section 67 of the OHS Act provides for HSR initial and refresher OHS training entitlements.

Section 69 of the OHS Act provides for other WorkSafe approved HSR OHS training

Training for elected HSRs

Under Section 67 of the OHS Act, if requested an employer must allow an HSR or DHSR time off work, with pay, to attend:

  • one HSR initial OHS training course after being elected
  • one HSR refresher OHS training course in each subsequent year that they hold office

For example, if an HSR completes the initial course on 23 March 2021, they can do refresher training once between 23 March 2021 and 22 March 2022 and once again during 22 March 2022 and 22 March 2023 and so on.

This obligation applies if the HSR provides notice of 14 days or more before the course starts.

The course must be:

  • approved or conducted by WorkSafe
  • relevant to the HSR's role or the work of the DWG
  • selected by the HSR in consultation with the employer

Who delivers approved courses

WorkSafe has approved courses, including courses conducted by trade unions, employer associations, TAFE colleges and others.

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The HSR initial OHS training course

The initial course is delivered over five days. This can be delivered over five consecutive days, or spread over a longer time with training delivered in ‘blocks’ of time no less than one day in duration.

The learning objectives of the course are to:

  • interpret the occupational health and safety legislative framework and its relationship to the HSR
  • identify key parties and their legislative obligations and duties
  • establish representation in the workplace
  • participate in consultation and issue resolution
  • represent designated work group members in any OHS risk management process undertaken by the appropriate duty holder
  • issue a provisional improvement notice (PIN) and direct the cessation of work

The HSR refresher course

A one-day refresher training course provides HSRs with information to strengthen the knowledge gained from an initial course. Refresher course content can cover any of the learning outcomes from the initial course. This could include:

  • a general update on legislation
  • risk management specific to an industry or hazards
  • HSR entitlements and powers
  • HSR skills development

What happens if an employer disagrees with a course?

The HSR should select a course and give the employer the opportunity to present views about the suitability of the proposed course.

If agreement cannot be reached about a course, or if an employer refuses to allow an HSR to attend an initial or refresher course, the HSR may ask WorkSafe to decide which course they can attend. When requesting a determination, initial contact is to be made through WorkSafe's Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

WorkSafe would first seek an agreement between the employer and HSR about which course they would attend.

If this can't be agreed, WorkSafe will determine which course the HSR can attend. WorkSafe determinations are made in writing and must be made at least 14 days before the course starts.

It is an offence under the OHS Act for an employer to refuse, without a reasonable excuse, to allow an HSR to attend a course determined by WorkSafe and penalties may apply.

Pay for an elected HSR when training

Attendance at approved Initial and Refresher HSR training is a work activity. An HSR must receive their normal earnings while attending HSR training. This includes pay entitlements for:

  • shift work
  • regular overtime
  • higher duties
  • allowances
  • penalty rates

In addition, the time an HSR spends at a course, including outside normal work hours, is considered time at work.

Pay for training

The employer must pay for the training course and any associated costs of the HSRs attendance. This may include:

  • travel to and from the approved course
  • accommodation, meals and incidental expenses

Other training entitlements for HSRs

Under section 69 of the OHS Act, an employer must allow an HSR time off with pay to attend other WorkSafe approved OHS training courses. The HSR must provide notice of 14 days or more before the course starts.

For section 69 courses the employer doesn't have to, but may choose to, pay for the course and any associated expenses.

Under this section of the OHS Act, deputy HSRs are not entitled to this training (unless they are acting in the role of the HSR at the time of training). An employer can, however, make this training available to deputy HSRs.

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