WHS Act changes – Health and Safety Representatives

9 April 2024

Amendments to the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act were passed by state parliament on 21 March 2024.

The changes relating to Health and Safety Representatives (HSR’s) will affect many members and once they commence (on a date to be confirmed), will place new obligations on people conducting business or undertaking (PCBUs).

According to Grace Grace MP, the Minister for State Development and Infrastructure, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing, the new laws recognise “the great value of HSRs in improving the health and safety of workers” and contain ”a range of measures to promote and encourage the take-up of these roles”.

Under the new laws:

  • PCBU’s must inform workers of their ability to request for the election of 1 or more HSR’s in the workplace (currently a worker must ask a PCBU to conduct an HSR election):
    • This includes notifying workers of the process of the election, the process of determining work groups and confirming who can represent workers in negotiations, as well as the powers and functions of HSR’s;
  • Elected HSRs have new powers to direct the cessation of unsafe work by issuing a direction to a PCBU for the PCBU to directs workers to cease work:
    • Subject to meeting some conditions, including first consulting with the PCBU, issuing the direction in writing, and the HSR issuing the direction representing workers in the affected work group;
    • A cease work notice will remain in force until it is withdrawn in writing by the HSR, the issue is resolved with the assistance of a WHSQ Inspector, a WHSQ Inspector issues a prohibition notice, or the QIRC decides or deals with the dispute.

In addition, changes to the ‘Consultation, representation and participation’ provisions include:

  • A union being able to notify a PCBU that they wish to be a party to a WHS issue;
    • And being able to enter and remain at a workplace to attend discussions in relation to the WHS issue.

If you have a HSR or HSRs at your workplace you are required to register their details with WHSQ. Failing to notify the regulator may result in a fine of up to $2,000. Register your HSRs now via the Health and safety representative portal to avoid a financial penalty.

Master Builders will provide members with further advice as these changes when they become law. In the meantime, if you wish to discuss the changes, please contact our WHS Team.

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