Training to be a Health and Safety Representative (HSR)

Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) play a valuable role within organisations, by providing a health, safety, and wellbeing voice for workers. They support worker engagement and have the power to issue Provisional Improvement Notices (PINs) and stop unsafe work when necessary. 

It is critical that leaders equip HSRs to fulfil their role; training is a key part of this and takes many forms. Only a trained HSR who has completed initial training can use the functions and powers available under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).

Training introduces HSRs to HSWA and other legal concepts. It also covers other knowledge and skills that HSRs need so that they can represent workers effectively. Trained HSRs know about health and safety. They are aware of the rights and responsibilities of everyone in the workplace.

An HSR who has not attended training can still carry out HSR functions. However, they cannot issue a PIN or direct unsafe work to cease.

Only a worker who has been formally elected by the members of their work group to represent them on health and safety matters is eligible to attend the training. There are many options available to get trained. For example, some companies offer:

  • Classroom training
  • Online instructor led training
  • Online Self-paced training
  • Onsite training

Completing initial training means achieving New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) unit standard 29315 and only training providers with approval from NZQA can teach this unit standard.

Finding the right training is key to a good experience and it has been found sessions that are engaging and interactive, that invite participation and get people active are the most effective at imparting and embedding knowledge.

For a list of courses available in New Zealand check out NZ Work Safety Rep Training (

The significance of the HSR role

According to WorkSafe NZ the functions of an HSR include:

  • representing workers on health and safety matters
  • making recommendations on health and safety
  • investigating complaints and risks to worker health and safety
  • monitoring health and safety measures taken by the PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking)
  • giving feedback to the PCBU about how it is meeting its duties

An HSR’s powers include:

  • requesting relevant information from the PCBU
  • entering and inspecting a workplace
  • attending interviews

The Health and Safety Representative plays a key role as the voice of the workers in any organization, especially for their wellbeing. The importance of this role cannot be stressed enough for safety in the workplace has a number of benefits, ranging from increased job satisfaction and happiness, to reduced risk of injury, which in turn reduces the risk of lost working hours, lower productivity and even lawsuits and legal punishments. By having a designated health and safety representative, businesses will have a straightforward point of contact to ensure that the risks of health and safety issues are mitigated. HSRs are an important consideration for small or large businesses, however, in many cases people don’t understand their importance and the benefits to the business.

For more information on HSR functions and powers see

HSR functions and powers | WorkSafe

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