It is very important that the formal processes set out in the Act regarding election and the lead-up to the election are followed. If this is not done, the validity of the representative’s election may be challenged at a later date, and the powers and protection provided by the Act may be lost
Please read carefully the following process and if you believe that this has not occurred, please discuss with your Principal or Manager the need to undergo the correct procedure.
Step 1:OSH ACT SEC 29 & 30
Any employee who works at the workplace may give notice to the employer requiring the election of a safety and health representative for that workplace or the employer may call for an election.
At the same time as the request is forwarded, begin immediately to discuss the number of OSH representatives required with your colleagues.
Decide on delegates to consult with the Principal/Manager. Try and be representative of all Unions in your choice of delegates.
Step 3: SEC 30
Employer must respond within 21 days by inviting delegates to consult with the Principal/Manager and to discuss:
(a) The number of OSH representatives to be elected;
(b) The matter or areas in respect of which an OSH representative is to exercise their functions;
(c) Who will conduct the election;
(d) What time and facilities will be made available to the elected OSH representatives to assist them in their role.
(e) Decide on and agree on a “scheme” if required (see notes on ‘schemes’ below).
(f) A process for filling temporary vacancies should they arise during the term of office.
NOTE: A Union can only conduct the election if agreed at this stage.
Step 4: SEC 31
The appointed returning officer calls for nominations.
Every employee who works at the workplace is entitled to a vote and the election must be secret ballot. If only one nomination for a vacancy, there is no need for an election. The election should be held within a reasonable time.
Step 5: SEC 31
The person conducting the election must notify the employer any OSH committee and WorkSafe of the results of the election.
The term of office for an OSH representative is for 2 years.
Where a question relating to an election arises, the matter may be referred by any interested party to the Commissioner who shall, if unable to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of the persons concerned, refer the matter to a safety and health magistrate for determination.
Points to consider when discussing the number of Representatives
Points to consider in the appointment of a Delegate
Points to consider prior to election
What is a ‘scheme’?
A scheme can provide for either or both of the following:
Who is eligible for nomination as a safety representative?
Anyone is eligible to become a safety representative if they work at the workplace, or belong to the particular group at the workplace they want to represent. Contractors or their employees can also be nominated if the workplace has a ‘scheme’ allowing that.
Re-election of one or more OSH representatives may be necessary at your worksite if:
Representatives can be re-elected after their two-year term of office has lapsed, but the formal election procedure as laid down by the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (as amended) must be followed.
The OSH representative may have taken maternity leave or long service leave. If it is envisaged that the school will be left without a representative for a substantial period, then a request should be made through the principal to approve a further election in accordance with the Act.
The original representative will resume the OSH functions on return to the workplace (provided the two-year term has not expired) and functions will be shared between the elected representatives.
Training of safety and health representatives
It is a requirement under the Act that an OSH representative attend an accredited safety course within 6 months of being elected. A new representative will find it beneficial to attend as soon as practicable after being elected.
The course runs for five days and safety representatives elected in accordance with the Act are entitled to paid leave to attend.
A full schedule of recommended training courses is available by contacting Julie Hegarty, Assistant to OSH Organiser or Joy Barrett, SSTUWA OSH Organiser, on Ph: 9325-5311.
Important things to do following election