H&S Law Change to help keep workers safe

The Health and Safety at Work (Health and Safety Representatives and Committees) Amendment Bill has recently been passed. These changes increase workers’ access to health and safety representatives, and health and safety committees.

Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) are a well-established example of worker participation and can also support worker engagement. HSRs provide workers with a formal, visible way to have a say in work health and safety.

These changes mean that:

  • If a worker asks for a health and safety representative, the business must initiate an election. Previously, smaller businesses in sectors that were not prescribed high-risk could decline these requests.
  • If a health and safety representative of 5 or more workers asks for a health and safety committee, the business must establish one. Previously, a business could refuse a request to establish a committee where the business is satisfied existing practices sufficiently meet the requirements.

The Act does not make H&S representatives or committees mandatory for businesses. But it is a requirement to have worker participation practices so workers are engaged with health and safety. Businesses will only be required to initiate an election for representatives or establish a committee when they are requested by workers.

If you do have workers wanting to be HSR’s or start a committee then: 

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), a business must support its workers in their role as Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs).

HSWA requires businesses to support HSRs by:

  • Facilitating elections.
  • Consulting with the HSR.
  • Giving feedback on any recommendations made by HSRs.
  • Providing information (not personal information unless consent is given).
  • Providing time and resources for the HSR role.
  • Providing paid leave to attend training, and pay training fees and costs of attending training.

Our H&S Training partners BeSafe and Safety n Action have H&S Representative courses available to help you navigate these requirements. As a HazardCo member, you get access to a 10% discount on all courses. 

It could be a good time to run a toolbox talk with your workers and ask if they want to be a HSR or start a committee. Give us a call on 0800 555 339 if you have any questions about HSRs or Committees.

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