Health and Safety Reps and PCBUs (Person Conducting the Business or Undertaking) both have rights and responsibilities around ensuring safer workplaces.
What powers does an HSR have?
An HSR has numerous powers relating to health and safety matters. They include the power to:
- represent workers in the work group
- monitor measures taken to comply with the Work Health and Safety Act
- investigate complaints made by workers
- inquire into anything that appears to be a risk to the health and safety of workers.
HSRs also have certain rights in relation to workplace inspections: they can be present at interviews about health and safety (with the consent of workers); they can request the establishment of a health and safety committee; and are entitled to information about health and safety matters.
In certain circumstances, HSRs can direct work to cease and can issue provisional improvement notices.
They can also request the assistance of any person whenever necessary.
However, you must be trained
The first step in being an effective HSR is to receive the accredited training.
You may have already received it, but if not, the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) must:
- ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that you have completed your five-day HSR training within three months of your election.
- give you the time off to attend the training and must pay the training fees along with any other reasonable costs associated with attending the training.
You must also be paid what you would’ve normally been paid for any time spent attending the training course.
What obligations does the PCBU have?
The person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) has obligationss in relation to HSRs. For example, they must:
- consult with the HSR about health and safety matters
- allow them access to certain information
- provide resources and facilities that are reasonably necessary to allow the HSR to fulfil their duties
Importantly, a PCBU must allow an HSR reasonable time to perform the role.