I want to raise safety issues at my workplace so we can get them resolved, but my manager says I need to go through the HSC committee. Is this true?
In short, no. The role of a Health and Safety Committee (HSC) is to complement the activities of HSRs, not replace them. Issues affecting a DWG must be resolved between the relevant HSR and management representative. WorkSafe Victoria's Employee Representation Guide advises the following:
The functions of an HSC include facilitating cooperation between employers and employees in instigating, developing and carrying out measures designed to ensure the health and safety at work of the employees, as well as formulating, reviewing, and disseminating to the employees the standards, rules, and procedures relating to health and safety that are to be carried out or complied with at the workplace.
Should an HSC be used for resolving health and safety disputes?
No, health and safety dispute resolution is not an appropriate function for HSCs. Dispute resolution requires specific procedures, and the nature of committees makes them unsuitable for resolving issues. The OHS Act provides for this under section 73 - Resolution of health and safety issues.
Having HSRs captured by the committee can result in inappropriately long delays or hazards and their associated risks not being addressed at all.
HSRs have all the powers and rights needed, working shoulder to shoulder with their DWG, to ensure safety issues are addressed promptly.
The role of the HSC is to record, review and disseminate information about measures put in place.