Health and Safety Representative information

The experience and knowledge of workers can make a significant contribution to identifying and controlling hazards and risks, and developing preventative measures to address health and safety issues that arise at the workplace.

To help health and safety representatives (HSRs) better understand their role, this section provides a range of useful information and guidance.

The Employee Representation handbook (PDF 810kb) is a comprehensive resource that contains all you should know about worker representation. It includes information on:

  • Establishing Designated Work Groups
  • Election of HSRS
  • Powers of HSRs
  • Obligations of an employer to HSRs
  • Health and Safety Committees
  • Issue resolution
  • Discrimination

How to consult with your employer

Consultation with your employer is a crucial part of your HSR role. For more information on how this is done, WorkSafe has developed the following:

Health and safety committees

Health and safety committees (HSCs) are an effective way to share information and consult on occupational health and safety (OHS) matters. Employers must ensure committee operations are well supported by management, with facilities, resources, information and time to implement action.

Employers must establish an HSC within three months after being requested to do so by an HSR.

Workers must make up at least half the membership of an HSC and as far as reasonably practicable, these members should be HSRs or deputy HSRs.

More information on HSCs is available in this fact sheet:

Issue resolution

Issue resolution is a process for dealing with occupational health and safety issues that arise in the workplace or as a result of the conduct of the undertaking of an employer.

The process for resolving issues is meant to assist workplaces reach a timely resolution, and includes factors to be taken into account while the issue is being discussed.

Further information on issue resolution can be found here:

Provisional Improvement Notices (PIN)

A PIN is a formal notice given to an employer by their HSR. A PIN can be issued by an HSR when they believe there has been a contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) or Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 in their workplace.

A PIN is issued when consultation between the HSR and employer has failed to resolve the health and safety issue.

For more information on PINs, please read:

Completing a PIN

To help HSRs provide all the relevant information that is required to issue a valid PIN, WorkSafe has produced this publication:

When completing the form remember that:

  • a PIN can be issued to any "person" on whom duties are imposed by the OHS Act (this includes body corporate, unincorporated or a partnership)
  • a PIN can only be issued by an HSR elected under the OHS Act (or deputy HSR when the HSR is unavailable)
  • if you have identified more than one health and safety issue, you must complete a separate PIN for each issue
  • providing your details at the end of the form will assist a WorkSafe inspector in contacting the person who issued it (should the PIN be disputed by the person who received it)
  • HSRs are advised to keep a copy of their completed PIN for their own records.

It is important to note that an HSR may only issue a PIN after they have consulted with their employer about the alleged health and safety contravention and the issue has not been remedied.

Consultation prior to issuing a PIN

WorkSafe considers consultation to have occurred if:

  • The HSR provides information - verbally or in writing - to the "person" who holds the duty about fixing the alleged breach or activities causing the breach. At this point the HSR doesn't need to specify which part of the Act or regulation the issue relates to (though the HSR can do so if they wish)
  • The HSR has allowed the person an opportunity to express their views and has given them adequate time to fix the contravention
  • The HSR has taken into account the views of the person before issuing the PIN.

Consultation can still be said to have occurred even if:

  • The person does not respond to the HSR in a reasonable time or at all
  • There is no agreement between the HSR and the person. The person does not have to agree that there is or is likely to be a safety contravention or agree on how to fix the matter

Direction to cease work
HSRs have the right to direct work to stop if there is an immediate health and safety threat, after they have consulted with their employer and for whatever reason it is not appropriate to follow an agreed issue resolution procedure or the procedures in the OHS Regulations.

At any time, an HSR or their employer can ask WorkSafe to arrange for an Inspector to come to a workplace to enquire into the issue.

Everyone has the right to stop work if there is an immediate threat to their health or safety.

Discrimination
Employers must not discriminate against HSRs, or any other worker or prospective worker, on grounds that relate to health and safety. This includes as a result of acting as an HSR, being a member of an HSC, assisting an Inspector, the Authority or an authorised representative of a registered employee organisation or raising OHS issues.

Employers must not threaten, dismiss or refuse to hire someone, or otherwise adversely affect their employment, because of their involvement in health and safety. If they do, it is an offence and they risk major penalties.

If legal action is taken against an employer on the basis that they allegedly discriminated against someone because of their involvement in OHS and the employer decides to defend the action, it is up to them to prove that the main reason for their actions was not related to the person's involvement in health and safety.
For more information please read:

Safety and prevention

The aim is to make every workplace safer for Victorian Workers. This section has tools, tips and guides to make your workplace safer. Learn about the risks industry, how to minimise the risk of injury, and legal duties. This information for HSRs, Managers, Supervisors , Workers and and anyone interested in workplace health and safety.

Injury Hotspots (statistics and solutions)

The Injury Hotspots homepage is where you can find specific injury statistics for your industry as well as practical solutions for making your workplace safe.

WorkSafe's Injury Hotspots information sheets give an industry-wide snapshot of how people get injured and what can be done to prevent these injuries.

WorkSafe inspectors

WorkSafe's Inspectors play a vital role in ensuring that workplaces meet their OHS obligations. They assist and advise employers, supervisors and workers on how to make workplaces safe and undertake enforcement action to make sure health and safety laws are complied with. They also assist HSRs in their role of representing workers on OHS issues. To find out more information about WorkSafe inspectors read:

Internal review of inspector's decisions

An HSR or an eligible person can ask WorkSafe to review a range of decisions made by its inspectors. Such decisions are referred to as "reviewable decisions" and include refusal to make a reviewable decision.
The review function is managed by WorkSafe's Internal Review Unit which is designed to provide an accessible, timely and transparent decision making process. For more information see:

Other info

Incidents
The legal obligation to providing an operational response to an incident rests with the employer. However, HSRs have the ability through the exercise of their powers to make a very important contribution to safety outcomes in the workplace by:

  • Inspecting any part of their DWG immediately after an incident, or at any time thereafter, providing reasonable notice is given to the employer
  • Requesting access to information relating to incidents that have occurred in their DWG (including the written record of a notifiable incident provided by the employer to WorkSafe)
  • Accompanying a WorkSafe inspector during an inspection of a workplace at which a member of their DWG works
  • If a member of their DWG (e.g. an injured party) consents, being present at an interview concerning occupational health and safety between
    • the member and an inspector; or
    • the member and the employer concerned or its representative;
  • Being consulted about any decisions being made about the measures to be taken by the employer to control risks to health or safety resulting from the incident
  • Attempting to resolve with the employer concerned (or their representative such as a manager / supervisor), any issues concerning the health or safety of members of the DWG

A HSR exercising their powers may do any of the above for the purpose of:

  • Representing the members of their DWG
  • Monitoring the measures taken by an employer to respond to an incident
  • Enquiring into anything that poses a risk to members of their DWG – e.g. a potential, ongoing risk that has been highlighted by the incident

Where a notifiable incident (in accordance with section 37 OHS Act) occurs this must be reported to WorkSafe by the employer.

To find out more about incident notification read

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