What are my powers as a HSR to request policy documents on drugs and alcohol in my work place? My HR manager is giving me the run around and refusing to share, claiming they're in review and not ready for distribution.

What are my powers as a HSR to request policy documents on drugs and alcohol in my work place? My HR manager is giving me the run around and refusing to share as apparently, they're in review and not ready to be circulated

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)

Also worth noting: section 35 of our OHS Act makes it clear an employer must consult with the relevant HSR employees regarding measures taken to control risks and on any proposed changes that may affect the health and safety of workers.  

Your employer should be consulting with you through the policy review process.

Relying on the above provisions we encourage you to request in writing that the drug and alcohol policies you require be made available to you, 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, you could 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 

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.  

Worth noting: section 69(e) requires the employer provide such assistance to a HSR as necessary to enable the representative to exercise his or her powers (our paraphrasing). Rather than obstructing you, your employer has a duty to provide such assistance to as necessary.

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