Training

The following material is exerpted from WorkSafe Publication Employee Representation

HSR TRAINING

HSRs are the elected representatives of employees in a DWG. The
HSR has the dual role of performing the work for which they were
employed, as well as representing the health and safety interests of the
employees in the DWG. To do this effectively, it is essential that HSRs
(and their deputies) receive training that provides them with the
appropriate skills and knowledge.
WorkSafe recommends that the costs associated with HSR training be
integrated into the overall training budget of the organisation. It is
desirable that the training chosen by the HSR be agreed to by the
employer to ensure that all training needs as well as the operating
needs of the organisation can be met.
Is an employer required to allow HSRs to attend training?
An employer must, if requested by an HSR*, allow that HSR time off
work, with pay to:

  • attend an initial course of training in OHS after being elected;
  • undertake refresher training at least once in each year that they hold
    office after completing the initial training course; and
  • attend other approved training.

It is not compulsory for HSRs to be trained; however,WorkSafe
actively encourages HSRs to take up their training entitlement.
Is an employer required to allow deputy HSRs to attend training?
Yes.
Deputy HSRs are entitled to time off work with pay to attend initial and
refresher training. However, they are not entitled to time off work with
pay to attend other approved training.
* The HSR’s request to the employer must be given with at least 14 days notice –


Is an HSR (or deputy HSR) entitled to attend another initial
training course after being re-elected in the same DWG?

No, not generally.
Every HSR (and every deputy HSR) has only one entitlement for initial
training.
If the HSR (or deputy) is re-elected in the same DWG and has already
participated in an initial training course, they do not generally have an
entitlement to time off work with pay to attend a further initial training
course. However, in a situation where the nature of an HSR’s role or
workplace changes substantially, there may be an entitlement to attend
another initial training course.
The absence of an entitlement does not prevent an employer who
recognises the benefits of HSRs receiving training from allowing them
to attend additional courses.
If an HSR (or deputy HSR) had initial training under the 1985
OHS Act, are they entitled to another initial training course under
the new OHS Act?

No, unless they have been elected under the new OHS Act in a
different DWG.
This does not prevent an employer agreeing with an HSR trained under
the 1985 OHS Act that they may attend another initial training course.
Are there circumstances in which an HSR (or deputy HSR) can
attend initial training a second time?

Yes.
An HSR who is elected in another DWG (i.e. an HSR who changes
employer and is then elected HSR by a new DWG) is entitled to time off
work with pay to attend a further initial training course.

When can refresher training be taken?
Refresher training may be taken any time after 12 months has elapsed
from the initial training and again at least every 12 months after that.
This entitlement to time off work with pay to attend refresher training
only applies to those HSRs (and deputies) who have completed an initial
training course.
HSRs who were elected and have already completed a training course
under the 1985 OHS Act are also entitled to time off work with pay to
attend the refresher training under the OHS Act for each year in office
that finishes on or after 1 July 2005.

How much notice must an HSR (or deputy) give to the employer
prior to attending a health and safety training course?

At least 14 days’ notice.
This is to ensure that the training provisions are workable and do not
cause unnecessary inconvenience to the workplace and the employer.
Employers may need time to make alternative arrangements to meet
their business requirements.
However, it is not acceptable for business requirements to be used
repeatedly as a reason by an employer for delaying attendance.

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Health and safety courses

Training courses must be:

  • approved or conducted by WorkSafe.
    WorkSafe has approved a number of courses, including courses
    conducted by trade unions, employer associations, TAFE colleges
    and others. A list of course providers can be found on the WorkSafe
    website
    .
  • relevant to the HSR’s role or the work of the DWG.
    The courses must be either relevant to the work of the members
    of the DWG in terms of dealing with hazards or risks found in the
    DWG’s workplace or to the role of the HSR, e.g. issuing PINs,
    injury inquiry procedures, etc.
  • selected by the HSR in consultation with the employer.
    The OHS Act requires training courses for HSRs under this section
    to be chosen by the HSR in consultation with the employer.

Consultation means that the HSR must:

  • inform the employer of the proposed course;
  • give the employer the opportunity to present views about the
    suitability of the proposed course and suggest alternatives; and
  • take those views and suggested alternatives into account when
    deciding which course to attend. s.67(

It is desirable for HSRs and employers to agree on which course the
HSR should attend. Issues that might be considered include:

  • timing of attendance – the sooner HSRs attend training after being
    elected, the more effective they will be in performing their role;
  • cost of courses, where prices differ substantially;
  • costs of attendance for remotely located workplaces including
    travel and accommodation expenses (in such circumstances,
    the arrangements that would apply for any other work-related
    professional development courses will determine what is reasonable);
  • the relevance of any hazard-specific course to the DWG; and
  • the total number of employees requiring training.

Must the employer pay the HSR (and deputy) their normal salary
for the days they attend training?

Yes.
An employer must allow each HSR (and deputy HSR) paid time off to
attend training, equivalent to what they would otherwise be entitled to
receive for working during that period. HSRs should not be
disadvantaged in any way as a result of accessing the training that the
OHS Act entitles them to.

HSR training is part of normal work-related activity. HSRs are entitled
to receive their normal/expected earnings during course attendance.
Normal/expected earnings include pay entitlements relating to shift
work, regular overtime, higher duties, allowances or penalty rates that
would have applied had the HSR been at work.
There are circumstances in which HSRs may need to attend a course
that is being conducted outside their normal working hours. For
example, this might apply when an HSR:

  • normally works two days a week and attends a five-day course run on
    consecutive days;
  • has a rostered day off during the course; or
  • has a shift that does not overlap or overlaps only marginally with the
    course’s hours.

All time spent at a course by an HSR (including casual employees) must
be treated by the employer as time at work. HSRs must be paid as if
they had been at work for the relevant time.
It is advised that employers alter rosters or shifts to accommodate any
HSR who attends training. If it is necessary for the HSR to work hours
in excess of the normal weekly hours, additional hours must be
compensated in the same manner as other additional hours are treated.
When the HSR and the employer agree, time off work may be taken in
lieu of payment.

Who pays for the costs associated with attendance at training?
The employer.
HSR training is a work activity. Employers must pay course fees and any
other expenses associated with attendance at a course, including:

  • travel to and from the approved course (where it is greater than travel
    to the normal workplace); and
  • accommodation, meals and incidental expenses where an approved
    course is remote from the workplace.

If, when establishing a DWG, the employer and employees agreed to
the election of multiple HSRs and deputy HSRs, the employer will need
to cover the costs outlined above for all HSRs and deputies to ensure
they can all effectively undertake their functions.

Are HSRs entitled to any other health and safety training?
In addition to the initial and refresher training, an employer must allow
an HSR time off with pay to attend other WorkSafe-approved training.
The HSR must give the employer at least 14 days’ notice.

Section 69(1) of the OHS Act does not oblige the employer to pay for
the cost of the training in the same way that is required for training under section 67.
However, the employer may choose to pay the costs.
Deputy HSRs do not have an entitlement to the other additional training
provided for under this provision. But again, the employer may choose
to make this training available to deputy HSRs.

What if there are multiple employers?
If the HSR or deputy HSR represents a DWG involving multiple
employers, the costs of the HSR (and deputy, if any) exercising their
powers under Part 7 of the OHS Act, and the costs associated with
training outlined previously, must be equally divided between each of
the employers, unless agreed otherwise.
Any agreement to divide costs in another way may be varied at any time
by negotiation between each employer.
If any one of those employers fulfils the obligations in section 67
concerning the training of HSRs (and deputies, if any), then each of
the other employers will be deemed to have fulfilled this obligation.

What happens if an employer refuses to allow an HSR (or deputy
HSR) to attend training?

If an employer refuses to allow an HSR to attend an approved initial
or refresher training course, or they cannot agree on which course to
attend, the HSR may ask WorkSafe to determine an appropriate course.
This determination will be handled by WorkSafe’s Workplace Support
and Education Division, with initial contact to be made through
WorkSafe’s Advisory Service (contact details can be found on the back
cover of this guide).

If WorkSafe is asked to determine a specified course that an HSR may
attend, it will first seek to gain agreement between the employer and
the HSR about which course the HSR may attend. Reasons for
disagreement may include: the HSR giving insufficient notice; choosing
a training course not approved by WorkSafe; or choosing a course not
relevant to the role of the HSR or the work of the DWG.
In such circumstances, the following actions can be taken.

  • If the HSR has given less than 14 days’ notice, WorkSafe will determine
    a course that is to be held more than 14 days from that date.
  • If the HSR proposes a course that has not been approved by
    WorkSafe, WorkSafe will nominate an approved course to be held
    more than 14 days from that date.
  • If the issue relates to the relevance of the particular course to the work
    of the DWG or to the role of HSRs, a relevant course will be selected.
    However, if the HSR did give 14 days’ notice, the course is approved by
    WorkSafe, and the course is relevant; then it is highly likely that
    WorkSafe will affirm the course as chosen by the HSR.
    Any determination made by WorkSafe must be made in writing and
    WorkSafe must ensure that it is made more than 14 days before the
    course is about to start.

It is an offence under the OHS Act for an employer to refuse, without a
reasonable excuse, to allow an HSR to attend a course determined by
WorkSafe.*

* Penalties apply to contraventions of this provision.

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