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Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs)
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Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs)

Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) are a well-established example of worker participation and can also support worker engagement. HSRs provide workers with a formal, visible way to have a say in work health and safety. 

HSRs also provide:

  • a voice for workers who might not otherwise speak up about work health and safety matters
  • a mechanism for workers to speak to management about work health and safety matters
  • help in situations where it is not practical for a business to engage one-on-one with its entire workforce.

While HSRs aren’t necessarily experts in health and safety, trained HSRs are knowledgeable about health and safety matters, how the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) works, and are aware of the rights and responsibilities of everyone in the workplace.

Trained HSRs also have powers that enable them to take action on behalf of their work group.

Functions and powers

HSRs have a number of functions and powers such as representing workers on health and safety matters, making recommendations on health and safety, investigating complaints and risks to worker health and safety, monitoring health and safety measures taken by the business, and giving feedback to the business about the business meeting its duty.

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Addressing a health and safety matter with support from an HSR

An HSR can help a worker to address a health and safety matter by assessing the risk, gathering information, asking others (such as other HSRs, workers or a union) for input, and/or recommending solutions. An HSR can also discuss the matter with the duty holder. If the matter is still not resolved, there are several options. For example, a trained HSR can start the process to issue a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN).

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Work groups

Before an HSR is elected, the business must determine work groups (groups of workers) for the HSR to represent.

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The HSR election process

This information relates to businesses that are required by law to have an HSR if requested by a worker; or who choose to have an HSR as part of their worker participation practices even if they are not required by law to.

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Training requirements

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, training requirements for Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) have changed. Here you can find examples of how existing HSRs and new HSRs can become trained under HSWA.

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Health and Safety Representative transition training

Transition training was a bridging course for existing, trained HSRs, to ensure they could perform all their functions under the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).

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Employer obligations

Under HSWA, businesses have some legal requirements to support Health and Safety Representatives.

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Provisional improvement notices (PINs) and WorkSafe's assistance to review

A Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) is a written notice issued by an HSR to a person or a business, telling them to address a health and safety concern in the workplace.

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Protections

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), there are a number of protections in place for both businesses and health and safety representatives.

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Ceasing to be a HSR

There are a number of situations where a person can cease to be an HSR including resignation, completion of term, moving to a different work group, or by being removed by WorkSafe.

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Information and resources

Here you will find links to New Zealand and international worker participation information, tools and resources relevant to HSRs and employers.

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Last updated 10 July 2017