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HSR training is not “optional”

Weekly WHS Article 10th July 2024

HSR training is not “optional”

HSR representation

A health and safety representative represents groups of people in a workplace that has been sectioned into “work groups” within that business for the purpose of facilitating quality communications between management and the workforce on workplace health and safety matters that may affect staff in those work groups.  

The number of work groups is determined by the size of the business, number of staff, number of departments, size and location of the premises, etc. 

A work group is not a work group if there isn’t an HSR there representing them. 

Businesses must consult staff on WHS matters

If a WHS risk or hazard presents itself, whether newly or because of changes to existing control measures, the WHS Act states that the PCBU (business, organisation, corporation) must consult with all persons who may be affected by the WHS matter and get their feedback and input on proposals to resolve any associated hazards and risks, before final decisions are made.

Directors and CEOs (as representatives of the PCBU) must ensure these actions occur.  

They use their management structure to reach out to all persons in the workplace who may be affected and talk to them and get their views and feedback on how to resolve the matter. 

  • Management must consult.

  • Workers must be consulted

The parameters for these discussions are covered in Section 70 of the WHS Act. 

In companies that also have a health and safety committee, committee members who are also HSRs would be expected to relay information from the meetings to the members of their work group that need to know. 

Powers of an HSR

An HSR also has the power to issue "Provisional Improvement Notices" (P.I.Ns) if the HSR believes that the issue has not been resolved. HSRs may also issue Cease Unsafe Work notices if the HSR believes there is reasonable concern that to carry out work would expose a worker of their work group to a serious risk to their health or safety emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard or danger.

Training entitlements

SafeWork NSW have an initial course and a refresher course for health and safety representatives. Under Clause 21 of the WHS Regulation, an HSR is entitled to attend these two courses of training. The refresher course can be done yearly after completion of the initial course.  

Training must be arranged

Per Section 72 (2) of the WHS Act, the business must allow for an HSR to attend any of these courses within 3 months of the HSR making the request. 

Once the HSR has made the request, the provision of that training must occur. There is nothing “optional” about providing the training once the request has been made. 

If there is any hesitancy from management to provide the training, the solution is the same for any WHS matter: consultation. An HSR has the right to push this. If the person is a legitimately elected HSR for a legitimately established work group then the business cannot lawfully refuse.

Courtenell provides HSR training for health and safety representatives, as an approved training provider for SafeWork NSW.  The courses run often, at multiple locations and can be delivered on line.


If you are an HSR and have not done the initial training, or you are an HSR who has done the initial training but would like to update or refresh by doing the HSR Refresher course, you only need to put your hand up for the one that is appropriate for your situation and work with your manager to get help arrange that. 

Please feel free to contact Stephen Georgulis or Kevin Gaskell on 02 9552 2066, or via email, or if you would like more information or to book onto the Initial 5 day HSR course or 1 day HSR refresher. 

10th July 2024

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