Provisional Improvement Notices

Workplace Health and Safety series

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The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) entitles Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) to issue a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) if they suspect there has been a breach of the Act. Elected representatives must undergo training before they can issue a PIN.  

The PIN provision  

A HSR can issue a PIN in their area of representation and to their particular work group if they reasonably believe that a person is breaching or has breached a provision of the WHS Act (or in circumstances when they believe it is likely to occur again). 

Consultation prior to the issue of a PIN 

A duty holder must be consulted regarding the infringement before the HSR issues the PIN. Consultation is still considered to have occurred even if the duty holder does not respond to the HSR in a reasonable time, or at all. 

Who can a HSR issue a PIN to? 

In most instances this will be the person responsible for managing your workplace.  

What must the HSR include in the PIN? 

A PIN must be in writing and must specify the provision of the WHS Act or regulations that have been breached.  

This PIN must also include advice on how the section was or is being breached.  

A HSR may also provide directions in the PIN about fixing the WHS issue, but is not required to do so. HSRs should keep a copy of any PIN issued by them. 

Can more than one contravention be put in a PIN? 

No. A separate PIN should be completed for each breach of the WHS Act. 

What must the person who is issued with the PIN do after receiving it? 

The person issued with the PIN should ensure that any PIN issued to managers or supervisory staff is passed on promptly. All other people whose work is affected by the notice should be informed, and the notice must be displayed prominently in that work area and a copy sent to the regulator.  

If the person who receives the PIN does not fix the breach within the required timeframe (that is, within a minimum period of eight days), the HSR can then contact a WHSQ inspector to investigate. 

If the person who receives the PIN disagrees with it, they can contact a WHSQ inspector within seven days to investigate. If this occurs, the PIN will be suspended until the inspector makes a decision. 

What timeframes are placed on the inspector to investigate? 

WHSQ will arrange for an inspector to investigate the circumstances of the notice as soon as possible. 

The inspector will do one of the following:  

  • confirm the PIN 
  • confirm the PIN with modifications 
  • cancel the PIN. 

The recipient of a PIN declared by an inspector must then comply with the PIN. 

Inspector’s decision can be appealed 

The inspector’s decision to either confirm or cancel the PIN can be reviewed. 

How must a PIN or an inspector’s PIN enquiry outcome notice be served? 

  • Delivering it personally or sending it by post or fax. 
  • Leaving it at the person’s usual or last known home or business address. 
  • Leaving it with a person who is the occupier of the workplace. 

Action to be taken against a HSR for inappropriate use of PINs 

Where a HSR has issued a PIN improperly, the chief executive or the relevant person may apply to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to suspend or revoke the HSR’s ability to issue PINs. HSR members should contact the QNMU in this circumstance. 

Will a mistake in a PIN or PIN enquiry outcome notice make it invalid? 

This depends on the type of mistake. The PIN must contain: 

  • the HSR’s belief that there is a breach and the reason for that belief. 
  • the legislative provision that the HSR believes is being breached, and the date when it must be fixed. 

Safe Work College offers training for Health and Safety Representatives. Details can be found at