Health and safety representative (HSR) and deputy HSRs must be elected by members of the work group they will represent.
- must have every reasonable opportunity to nominate HSRs and vote in the election
- determine how the election will be conducted
- must tell the PCBU the election date.
The election could be:
- informal; for example, with a show of hands
- formal, using ballots
- conducted with the help of a union or other organisation or person (if the majority of workers in the work group agree).
There must be a separate election for each work group in the workplace.
Members of the work group and the PCBU must be told the election results as soon as possible.
Elections aren’t always needed to vote for a HSR — if the number of candidates nominated for election equals the number of vacancies in the work group, the candidates are deemed to be ‘elected’.
The term of office can be up to 3 years.
Who can stand for election
To be eligible for election, a worker must:
- be a member of the work group they will represent
- not be currently disqualified from being a HSR.
A work group member may nominate themselves or be nominated by another member of the work group.
Can a manager be a HSR?
Yes, a manager can be a HSR if they are:
- a member of a work group
- elected by the workers of that work group to be a HSR.
However, a manager who is also a HSR may be placed in a difficult position. For example, they may be the person whom a work health and safety concern is raised about — and at the same time is the person who is responsible for responding to that concern on behalf of the PCBU.
Having more than one HSR for a work group
If everyone agrees, there can be more than one HSR elected for a work group and the HSRs may perform their roles at the same time. This may be beneficial where there are large numbers of workers who perform similar work.
Who can vote in an election
All members of the work group can vote, including any contractors and others who are part of the work group.
The role of the PCBU in an election
The PCBU must provide any resources, facilities and assistance reasonably necessary for the elections to be held, such as:
- access to printing resources so election notices can be printed and displayed in the workplace
- access to a meeting room or to the internet.
- mustn’t unreasonably delay the election
- can’t directly appoint a HSR.
The role of the person conducting the election
This person must:
- inform the PCBU of the election date
- invite all relevant work group members to nominate a HSR and vote in the election
- advise work group members of the election results
- advise the PCBU of the election results.
Ceasing to be a HSR
A person ceases to be a HSR if:
- they resign as a HSR by giving the PCBU written notice
- they no longer work in the work group
- the person is disqualified from acting as a HSR
- the majority of work group members (half the number plus one) decide the person should no longer represent them.
Removing a HSR from office
A HSR can be removed from office when:
- the majority of work group members sign a written declaration
- when the HSR, the majority of work group members and any relevant PCBUs have been informed of the decision.
Disqualifying a HSR
You can apply to the Magistrates Court to have a HSR disqualified if the HSR has:
- exercised a power/function for an improper purpose
- used or disclosed any information they have acquired as a HSR for a purpose not connected to the role of HSR.
- a PCBU can apply to disqualify a HSR if the HSR issued a direction to cease work where, in the PCBU’s view, the HSR did not have a reasonable concern that the work could pose a serious health and safety risk to a member of their work group
- a work group member can apply to disqualify a HSR if they have been adversely affected by how the HSR has exercised their power.
The Magistrates Court can disqualify the HSR either indefinitely or for a specified period. This means the HSR can’t stand for election as a HSR during this period.