ASK RENATA

My employer has given me a 'HSR duty statement.' Is that right?

The answer is 'no - absolutely not'! This also applies if your employer has 'directed' you to undertake any particular task, or 'directed' you to undertake your role in any particular manner.

Our OHS Act is very clear and unambiguous on this - HSRs have an important role in the workplace and they have powers to be able to fulfill their role. Employers have obligations to HSRs.

But a duty statement implies that elected reps have duties as representatives - and this is not the case.

Section 58(3) of our OHS Act instructs:

'Nothing in this Act or the regulations imposes, or is to be taken to impose, a function or duty on a HSR acting in that capacity' (our paraphrasing).

What this means is that no OHS duties can be imposed upon a HSR, other than those also imposed on ordinary members of the DWG. An employer cannot require you to do anything when acting in your capacity as HSR, nor can other employees.

HSRs have an important role in the workplace and are given powers under section 58 to fulfill that role, but your role is a voluntary one - to be the voice of the DWG.

A HSR is elected by members of their DWG and is the DWG’s representative, not the employer's. He or she must satisfy those members and is answerable to them. In terms of duties, an elected representative has the same duties as any other worker - no more, no less.

These are specified in Section 25 of the Act. Workers must:

  • Take reasonable care for their own health and safety
  • Take reasonable care for the health and safety of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions
  • Cooperate with anything the employer does to comply with OHS requirements.
  • Not 'intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse' anything provided at the workplace for OHS

If your employer has 'directed' you to undertake any task, or 'directed' you to undertake your HSR role in any particular manner, they may be in breach of section 58(3) of our OHS Act.

Check out our webpage ‘I've been given a duty statement...’ for more information.

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