Can a HSR from another State represent a DWG that is not in the same State as the HSR and vice versa? What would happen if a HSR from Victoria needed to issue a PIN to an employer in NSW? Is this possible?
We'd like to begin by acknowledging the challenges faced by workers who are far from home and under pressure to 'just get the job done.' It is a common question from HSRs in distribution and logistics to ask, 'how far do my powers go?' These workers are often in the eye-of-the-storm regarding the chain of responsibility, labour hire, multiple employers, and other complexities.
HSR powers are generally limited to the representative's own DWG, unless covering other DWGs has been negotiated as part of your DWG Agreement.
Also, as a rule, if you are elected under one law, you cannot use your rights and powers for a group covered by another law. For example, a PIN issued by a Victorian HSR to a PCBU in Wodonga would likely be deemed invalid because HSR powers conferred under the Victorian OHS Act do not apply in a jurisdiction covered by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW).
When truck driving HSRs travel to Albury-Wodonga and ask WorkSafe Victoria (WSV) how to issue a PIN, WSV will typically advise that 'all your powers stop at the border.' Instead, HSRs will be encouraged to report the issue as a safety hazard in the safety system at the job in Wodonga, just like any other worker, and then report it to their head office in Victoria. The important thing is to speak up, report the issue, and demand action.
HSRs should raise the issue at the Health and Safety Committee if the employer is sending workers to dangerous environments. They should also include it on the agenda for a meeting of their DWG and have a collective discussion.
It's important to take notes and keep copies of minutes when negotiating for a procedure covering dangerous work interstate. Any such procedure should make it clear who workers should contact. Is it possible to negotiate a procedure that makes it explicit; 'if it isn’t safe, we don’t do it,’?
Consultation is crucial and should occur before, during, and after hazardous work tasks. Employers should also establish safety expectations with the workplaces where staff are being sent.
We strongly encourage making full use of section 58(1)(f) – the HSR's right to seek the assistance of any person, whether that be other HSRs or Union officials. As always, we strongly encourage seeking assistance from your Union.