Ask Renata

Our HSR has left the workplace, so we have a vacancy. We’ve put out a call for nominations but received nothing. Can we tap someone on the shoulder?

Section 54(1) of the Act requires a HSR be elected by their Designated Work Group (DWG). There is nothing wrong with ‘tapping someone on the shoulder’ and encouraging them to consider becoming the HSR, but that person needs to accept the nomination to move to the next stage.

If there is a single vacancy and only one nomination, then there’s no need to conduct the election - the candidate is taken to be elected, ‘unopposed’, as it were.

Lack of nominations for HSR vacancies is not an uncommon problem. We suggest exploring, with members of your DWG, what’s behind their reluctance to put volunteer.

What is their understanding of the role of HSR, their rights and powers and its importance in creating a safe workplace?

Do members of your DWG understand there are no ‘duties’ that come with the role and they’ll be fully supported by their workmates, their Union, Trades Hall and a network of fellow volunteers, right around the state?

Do they understand they’ll receive significant training and support, and thier job is simply to be ‘the voice of the DWG’ when safety concerns arise?

Do they understand that electing and supporting a HSR is the most powerful thing they can do to address safety concerns that need fixing?

In our experience common misconceptions about the role include:

  • fear of being targeted by management
  • believing the role will come with a portfolio of additional duties
  • believing special expertise or knowledge is required
  • a misconception that the role is one of a ‘cop’ policing workmate compliance with safety procedures

The above objections need to be overcome if your workmates are to see the vacancy for what it is – an opportunity to acquire new skills, take on a leadership role and help achieve something important – a safer workplace for all.

See here and here for more information on how the Act prohibits targeting of HSRs, and how the Act imposes no additional duties on a HSR - only rights and powers.

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