What must a PCBU do and talk to HSRs about?
Weekly WHS Article 1st June 2023
Every person who may be affected by a WHS matter in their workplace must be given the opportunity to express their views about it.
It is a requirement under the WHS Act that every workplace has appropriate channels of communications between the PCBU and workers so that the PCBU, or representatives or the PCBU, are able to obtain information, feedback, and contributions from every person who may be affected by a health and safety matter in their area.
In workplaces that have work groups for consultation and HSRs representing the people in those work groups, the PCBU, or representatives of the PCBU, have specific things they must do and or discuss with these HSRs when the need arises regarding a health and safety matter in the workplace. This is a collaborative activity. This is WHS consultation through HSRs.
But what are the things that need to be done and or need to be discussed? By whom? How?
This is covered in Section 70 of the WHS Act where it says that a PCBU (either directly or through representatives) must:
consult with any HSR about WHS matters that affect their work group,
confer with a HSR, so far as reasonably practicable, whenever reasonably requested by that HSR, for the purpose of ensuring the health and safety of the workers in the HSR’s work group,
allow a HSR to have access to information that the PCBU has about: hazards (including associated risks) at the workplace affecting workers in the HSR’s work group, and the health and safety of the workers in the HSR’s work group (see ref 1).
allow a HSR, with the consent of a worker that the HSR represents, to be present at an interview concerning work health and safety between the worker and a SafeWork Inspector, or the PCBU or the person’s representative (see ref 2).
allow a HSR, with the consent of one or more workers that the HSR represents, to be present at an interview concerning work health and safety between a group of workers, which includes the workers who gave the consent, and an inspector, or the PCBU, or the person’s representative.
provide any resources, facilities and assistance to a HSR that are reasonably necessary or prescribed by the regulations to enable the HSR to exercise his or her powers or perform his or her functions under the WHS Act,
allow a person assisting** a HSR for the work group to have access to the workplace if that is necessary to enable the assistance to be provided (see ref 2),
permit a HSR for the work group to accompany an inspector during an inspection of any part of the workplace where a worker in the work group works,
provide any other assistance to the HSR for the work group that may be required by the regulations,
allow a health and safety representative to spend such time as is reasonably necessary to exercise his or her powers and perform his or her functions under this Act,
pay a HSR his usual pay for any time spent for the purposes of exercising his or her powers or performing his or her functions under the WHS Act.
This list is very detailed but it illustrates the level of care, respect, and commitment required and expected of both management and workers when it comes to the health and wellbeing of staff and workers. Communication is the first step. Cooperation and understanding follow. The interaction between PCBU and HSRs is meant to be transparent, productive, and effective.
An HSR can do well to ensure that these interactions between them and the management representatives for the PCBU takes place in this manner. It is a “win win” for all when followed exactly.
Worker’s personal or medical information – section 70 and 79 (4) WHS Act
“The PCBU must not allow a HSR, or a Health & Safety Committee member, to have access to any
personal or medical information concerning a worker without the worker’s consent unless the information is in a form that:
(a) does not identify the worker, and
(b) could not reasonably be expected to lead to the identification of the worker.”
Person’s Representative – See definition of “representative” in Section 4 the WHS Act
“representative, in relation to a worker, means:
(a) the health and safety representative for the worker, or
(b) a union representing the worker, or
(c) any other person the worker authorises to represent him or her.”
1st June 2023
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