There seems to be confusion for many people who work in the safety industry over what a Health and Safety Representative is required to do, and how the company they work for should act towards the Safety Rep. Here is some information to clarify the role of the Health and Safety Representative and try to make it easier for people to perform that function in the workplace.
How to Become a Safety Officer?
The Health and Safety Officer is normally elected by the employees in a workplace. Nominations are called for, an election is held and the candidate with the majority of votes is duly elected the occupational health and safety representative.
How long does the position of Safety Representative last?
Safety Reps are usually elected for a two (2) year term. They can resign during this time if they choose, but can only be removed by the relevant WorkSafe agency in each State or Territory under certain pre-conditions. After two years you can stand for election again, and if voted back in with a majority, can continue to perform the role.
What are the organisation’s obligations once a Safety Rep is elected?
1) The company must allow the Safety Representative to attend an accredited 5 Day Safety Representatives course within TWELVE (12) months of being elected. Failure to do so means the company in breach of legislation and they can be fined. In some states and territories there is an additional 1-2 days of training required after the five day Safety Rep course is completed.
2) The company must pay for all costs associated with this course, including travel, accommodation, food, taxis, and the course fees where applicable.
3) Time off from work with full pay for your usual hours of work per day must be paid to you while attending this course.
4) The company must consult with you about all matters relating to safety for the area you have been elected to represent. This is a requirement by law.
Being an Occupational Health and Safety Representative does not automatically mean that you are on the Safety Committee. You need to be elected to this committee. That said, by law, this committee must be made up of at least 50% of staff from the workforce.
More information will follow in another update, but this should help clarify some concerns people are having surrounding this voluntary role.
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