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Employer representatives of a Health & Safety Committee

Weekly WHS Article 5th April 2023

Who can be a member of the HSC?

Under the NSW WHS Act 2011, a business owner or employer can establish an HSC for the whole workplace or for parts of the workplace. You can do this on your own initiative or within two months of being requested to do so by a health and safety representative (HSR), or by five or more workers. An HSC may help you to consult with the members of your staff on WHS matters.

Members comprising an HSC can be agreed between you and your workers, however, at least half

must be workers not nominated by you. Existing HSRs are automatically part of a HSC, unless they

choose not to be. Representatives of the business should be drawn from your senior managers, managers, supervisors, safety officers, technical experts and personnel officers. This ensures that the committee is provided with the necessary level of decision making, knowledge and expertise regarding company policy, production needs and technical matters concerning premises, processes, plant, machinery and equipment, and systems of work (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) Note. Arrangements made and agreed between the business and the committee must be in accordance with the consultation requirements stated in Section 48 of the WHS Act.

What should committee representatives of the PCBU do?

Employer representatives on the HSC should be persons involved at senior management levels in the organisation who are able to make decisions about health and safety. Being generally members of the leadership team they must report back to senior management on outcomes of committee meetings and matters that senior management have asked to be tabled at the meeting, such as proposals for controls for risks that cannot be eliminated, or other WHS matters that need consultation with the workforce. The HSC addresses the health and safety of the workplace as a whole, therefore the matters to be discussed and coordinated can be many. As a business owner, a health and safety committee can make your duty to consult on WHS matters more productive and strengthen your management of health and safety in your business.


Ref1. Safe Work Australia, Worker Representation and Participation Guide, page 27

Ref2. Section 77, WHS Act NSW

Ref3. Section 47 and 48 WHS Act NSW

5th April 2023

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