Health and Safety Representatives

Workplace Health and Safety series

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Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) provide workers a voice in health and safety matters in the workplace and ensure workers are involved in consultation about matters that may affect their health and safety. 

The primary role of a HSR is to represent the health and safety interests of a work group and to raise any issues with their employer. There can be as many HSRs and deputy HSRs as needed – this is decided by negotiation and agreement between workers and the employer. The QNMU can act as your representative for this process. 

Duties of HSRs 

An elected HSR is entitled to perform the following tasks for the work group: 

  • undertake workplace inspections 
  • review the circumstances of workplace incidents 
  • represent the work group in health and safety matters 
  • attend an interview about health and safety matters with a worker from the work group (with the consent of the worker) 
  • request that a health and safety committee be established 
  • participate in a health and safety committee 
  • monitor compliance measures 
  • investigate work health and safety complaints from work group members 
  • inquire into any risk to the health and safety of workers in the work group 
  • issue provisional improvement notices and direct a worker to cease unsafe work (after the HSR has completed the approved training). 

Why do you need HSRs? 

By electing a co-worker to be their representative, workers can have a say in decisions about health and safety. HSRs are an important link between workers and employers. They make consultation on workplace health and safety issues easier and more effective. 

What is consultation? 

According to the Act, ‘consultation’ requires: 

  • relevant work health and safety information to be shared with workers. 
  • workers to be given a reasonable opportunity to express their views and to raise health or safety issues. 
  • workers to be given a reasonable opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process relating to the health and safety matter. 
  • the views of workers to be taken into account. 
  • workers to be advised of the outcome of any consultation in a timely manner. 

Can anyone be a HSR? 

Workers can elect anyone who is a worker at the workplace to be their HSR. A worker does not need any special qualifications or experience to be elected. 

Once they are elected, training will help HSRs perform their role. Information about training courses is available from the QNMU. The HSR is entitled to attend prescribed training and to have all reasonable costs met by the employer. 

How are HSRs elected? 

The members of a work group elect their own HSR. All members of the work group are able to vote in an election and the employer must provide resources and assistance to carry out the election if workers ask them to assist.  

Elections for a deputy HSR are carried out in the same way.  

Elections are not needed when the number of candidates is the same as the number of vacancies.  

To be eligible for election, a person must be a member of the work group they represent.  

List of HSRs 

A list of HSRs and deputy HSRs must be prepared and kept up to date and, as soon as practicable, a copy given to the Regulator. 

A copy of the list must be displayed in the workplace in a way that is accessible to workers. 

How long do HSRs hold the position? 

Workers elect HSRs for a three-year period. At the end of that period, the HSR may be re-elected. A worker stops being a HSR if they stop working at the workplace, if they resign from the position of HSR, or if the majority of members of the group agree the person should no longer represent them as a HSR. 

  • investigate complaints. 
  • inquire into any risk to the OHS of workers in the work group. 
  • direct the cessation of unsafe work (if they have attended prescribed training). 
  • issue provisional improvement notices (PINs). 

Are HSRs personally liable? 

A HSR carrying out their role is not personally liable for action or inaction, so long as the HSR acted in good faith. 


An employer must ensure that a HSR complete the initial 5-day course of training within three months of the Representative’s election. 

The HSR must be given paid time off to attend the training. 

The employer is also required to pay course costs and reasonable expenses associated with attendance.  

For assistance, contact Member Connect on 3099 3210 or 1800 177 273 (toll free outside Brisbane).