How Can You Become a Health and Safety Rep at Work?

Worker participation is vital in keeping organisations healthy and safe. A way to achieve this is through appointing a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) in your workplace.

An HSR is an employee who is elected to represent the members of their work group regarding health and safety matters. Moreover, HSRs act as a means for workers to participate and in engage in workplace health and safety. By advocating for workers, they create the link between employees and management.

What are the main responsibilities of an HSR?

An HSR is chosen to act or speak on behalf of their work group when it comes to health and safety. Essentially, they are the voice for workers who may not feel comfortable speaking up about health and safety issues in the workplace.

Main functions of an HSR include:

  • representing workers in relation to H&S matters
  • involvement in H&S investigations and complaints
  • monitoring H&S measures
  • providing H&S recommendations
  • provide feedback to the business regarding H&S compliance
  • attend health and safety committee meetings

How do you become an HSR?

Any business can choose to have an HSR to support worker engagement. However, only businesses with 20 or more employees, or who are in an industry listed under the Regulations, are required to hold an election if a worker requests for an HSR.

Workers can stand for election if they:

  • are a member of the work group electing an HSR
  • are willing to act as an HSR, and
  • work regularly and for enough hours to act effectively as an HSR 

The election process is fairly flexible and depends on what the workers agree on, e.g. show of hands or a secret ballot. Once an HSR has been chosen, they can begin to carry out their role and responsibilities.

The HSR will also be required to attend an initial training session run by WorkSafe Reps, in order to exercise their specific powers i.e. issue provisional improvement notices or cease unsafe work. This can be organised with the employer.

If you would like to request an HSR for your work group, or if you yourself would like to become an HSR, then talk to your employer today. Alternatively, contact Working Wise if you would like to know more about the role of an HSR.

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