Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) are elected to represent a group of workers. The first step in getting HSRs in your workplace is to establish workgroups.
Setting up workgroups
It only takes one person to ask for a workgroup to be set up. Once the request has been made, your employer has 14 days to begin consulting you and other workers about how many workgroups there will be and which areas will be represented.
Anyone affected by the composition of a workgroup is entitled to a voice when decisions are made. A person who has control over another person's work (managers or supervisors) cannot be involved in decisions about a workgroup unless half of the workers decide it's reasonable.
Self-employed contractors cannot be involved in the decision-making process. All workers in the workgroup, including casual and part-time workers, can nominate and vote in the election of a health and safety representative (HSR).
If any member of a workgroup or union which has members in the workgroup, disputes the election process they can refer the matter to the Industrial Commission to have the dispute resolved.
If you are a member of a union and want them to be involved your employer must consult the union before the work groups are established.
Before setting up a workgroup there are a few things you should consider:
- The number of workers employed.
- The different types of work performed in the workplace.
- The number of groups of workers performing the same or similar types of work.
- The areas where each type of work is done.
- The distance workers must travel between sites at work.
- The times when certain jobs are performed.
- Overtime or shift arrangements.
- Types of risks involved with particular work performed.
Workgroups should take into account the diverse nature of your workplace and include people with different skills and from different cultural backgrounds.
If the HSR is not able to represent their workgroup effectively members can request the workgroup be changed so it functions better.