ASK RENATA

I’d like access to information on workplace injuries that have occurred within my DWG. Do I have the right to such information? If so, do you have an email template I could use?

As an elected HSR you have the power, under section 58 of the OHS Act, to enquire into any matter than poses a risk or potential risk to members of your DWG.

In addition, under section 69(1)(a), your employer has a duty to 'allow a HSR access to information the employer has relating to actual or potential hazards.' (our paraphrasing)

Using these rights and powers we encourage you to request the information you seek in writing, noting it's always a good idea to keep your DWG in the loop and secure their endorsement.

We have a record of consultation proforma here that might suit your purposes, and a consultation email template here

Should your request not result in prompt provision of the information you require, we'd encourage you to issue a PIN for breach of s.69 of the Act.

The wording should be simple, for example: ‘My employer refuses to hand over OHS records they have about actual or potential hazards affecting my DWG.’  

Section 69 of the OHS Act states: 

(1) An employer, any of whose employees are members of a designated work group MUST

(a) allow a health and safety representative for the designated work group to have access to information that the employer has relating to— 

(i) actual or potential hazards arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer, or the plant or substances used for the purposes of that undertaking; and 

(ii) the health and safety of the members of the designated work group, or persons mentioned in section 44(1)(e) or 48(1)(e) whom the health and safety representative is authorised to represent 

Even if certain details in the information were to be considered private, the OHS Act expressly places restrictions on HSRs regarding how this information might be used, specifically at section 58  

The Act also carves out an express exclusion for the sharing of certain medical information in section 69(2).

Once the preconditions set out in section 69(1)(a)(i) and (ii) are met, and subject to s.69(2), the employer MUST share the information they have with the HSR. 

Your request is perfectly reasonable and proportionate to the legitimate aim of having a functional occupational health and safety system that engages with employees on workplace health and safety through duly elected and recognised HSRs.  

See Griffiths v Victoria Workcover Authority – Worksafe Victoria (Review and Regulation) [2021] VCAT 561

Page 41 of WorkSafe’s excellent Employee Representation Guide (attached) has this to say: 

Should an HSR be made aware if a member of their DWG is injured?

Yes. The information provided by the employer to the HSR, needs to be specific in relation to: 

  • the area and/or tasks being performed at the workplace where the injury occurred 
  • the actual or potential workplace hazards leading to the injury. 

For example, a HSR may immediately inspect any part of a workplace where a member of their DWG is injured. To enable this, the employer needs to inform the relevant HSR/s there’s been an injury.

In addition, an employer must allow an HSR access to information in relation to the health and safety of the members of the DWG, which includes providing an HSR with information if a DWG member is injured at work.

It is WorkSafe’s expectation that an employer would provide an HSR for his/her DWG with information regarding any workplace injury of members of the DWG. This would include physical and psychological injuries. 

This information must not disclose any medical information of the injured person unless the employer has the injured person’s consent. 

 

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