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The Role of Management Representatives in a Health & Safety Committee (HSC)

Weekly WHS Article 5th April 2023


Who can be a member of the HSC?

A Health & Safety Committee should consist of one or more HSRs, other workers, and management representatives appointed by the PCBU. At least half of the members of the HSC must be workers who have not been nominated by the PCBU.


Ideally the PCBU should appoint representatives from senior managers, managers, supervisors, safety officers, technical experts and personnel officers. This ensures that the committee is provided with the necessary level of knowledge and expertise about their workplace.


To represent a PCBU, a Management Representative should have a good knowledge and understanding of WHS laws, the functions and powers of the persons involved in an issue, and how to manage health and safety issues (Ref1).


What do the members of the HSC do?

The members of the HSC meet and work on WHS matters and issues that align with the expressed functions of a health and safety committee which are:

  • facilitate co-operation between the person conducting a business or undertaking and workers in instigating, developing and carrying out measures designed to ensure health and safety at work, and

  • assist in developing standards, rules and procedures relating to health and safety that are to be followed or complied with at the workplace, and

  • satisfy any other functions prescribed by the regulations or agreed between the PCBU and the Health and Safety Committee. (see Ref 2)


What Should Management Representatives Do?

As a member of the HSC, a Management Representative is representing the PCBU. The PCBU has mandatory duties and requirements, one being to consult on WHS matters with staff before making any decisions as to those WHS matters. Staff provide their feedback and contributions to those matters that are tabled at the committee meetings. It's up to the management representatives to ensure this information is relay to senior management and taken into account when making decisions.


The simple, plain definition of the word representative is; ‘one that speaks or acts on behalf of another’. And that is what Management Representatives in the HSC should do, speak and act on behalf of the PCBU. However, other members of the HSC will be puzzled and disappointed if a Management Representative talks or acts in a manner that is contrary to what the WHS Act or WHS Regulations say a PCBU must do.


Example 1

Section 17 of the WHS Act requires a PCBU to eliminate or minimise the risks of all hazards in their workplace. So, a Management Representative should show by their words and actions that they and the PCBU are committed to eliminating or minimising the risk of hazards in the workplace.


Example2

Sections 46 and 47 of the WHS Act require a PCBU to consult with workers about health and safety matters in their workplace, and Section 48 describes the nature of that consultation, and Section 49 sets out when consultation is needed.


You can see the details by reading those sections of the WHS Act and or refer to the SafeWork NSW Code of Practice, Work Health and Safety Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination, pages 10 to 27.

So, a Management Representative should show by their words and actions that as representatives of the PCBU they are committed to consulting with workers and other duty holders so that they can have and maintain a safe and healthy workplace. It will be a very rewarding and highly satisfying achievement.


Reference

Ref1. Safe Work Australia, Worker Representation and Participation Guide, page 31

Ref2. Section 77, WHS Act NSW







The Role of Management Representatives in a Health & Safety Committee
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5th April 2023








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