Health and safety representatives (HSRs) are important in the workplace. Worker representation provides a means for facilitating consultation, involving workers and giving them a voice in health and safety matters. The Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act recognises that workplaces have better health and safety outcomes when workers have input before decisions are made about health and safety matters that affect them.

Functions and powers of an HSR

HSRs facilitate the flow of information about health and safety between the business and the workers.

They monitor the health and safety actions taken by the business (or other PCBU), investigate workers' complaints and look into anything that might be a risk to the health and safety of the workers they represent.

If a HSR has completed approved HSR training they can also direct unsafe work to stop when they have a reasonable concern that carrying out the work would expose a worker to a serious risk.

HSRs can also issue a ‘Provisional improvement notice’ (PIN) when they reasonably believe there is a contravention of the Act.

Employer obligations to HSRs

  • allow the HSR adequate time at normal pay to carry out their role
  • consult and confer with the HSR on work health and safety issues (for example, when proposing measures to eliminate or minimise risks)
  • allow the HSR access to information about hazards and risks at the workplace as well as information relating to the health and safety of workers at the workplace (excluding workers' personal or medical information without the workers' consent)
  • allow the HSR to be present at an interview relating to work health and safety issues if a worker consents
  • provide the resources, facilities and assistance that are reasonably necessary for them to perform their functions
  • allow any person assisting the HSR, access to the workplace as necessary
  • permit the HSR to accompany an inspector on an inspection
  • grant five days initial training for the HSR, if requested, with a training provider approved by NT WorkSafe and, grant a one day annual refresher training if requested.

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