The role of occupational safety and health representative (OSH rep) is a highly important leadership role within the workplace. To assist OSH reps to carry out their role effectively they are required to attend a mandatory five day training course.
Functions of the OSH rep
The OSH rep has a number of responsibilities, including the following:
- To liaise with the employees regarding matters concerning their safety and health.
- To inspect the workplace at least every 30 days. If there has been an accident, the area should be inspected immediately and an investigation of the reasons for the accident should be carried out.
- To report hazards at the workplace to the principal/manager.
- Be informed by the employer of hazards, dangerous situations and accidents at the workplace.
- Be provided with safety information by the employer and to seek safety information from other sources.
- To consult with the employer over matters that relate to occupational safety and health, and undertake training as specified in the regulations.
Points to consider prior to election
- Schools may have more than one OSH rep.
- An OSH rep represents all those in a workplace.
- A school or college could be one workplace, or it may be made up of a number of workplaces with an OSH rep for each one (scheme).
- The SSTUWA does not recommend that the union representative take on the position of OSH rep as the workload may be too heavy.
The election process
It is important that the formal processes set out in the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 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. Refer to the graphic on the following page.
Any employee is eligible to become an OSH rep if they work at the workplace they want to represent. The OSH rep is not an SSTUWA branch position.
Important things to do following the OSH rep election
1) Advise the SSTUWA.
Use the form posted to the SSTUWA representative at your worksite, or access the form online, below.
This is important so that:
- The union has a record of the OSH rep’s name for contact purposes.
- An application form for training and an SSTUWA OSH manual can be forwarded to the OSH rep.
- The union can put the OSH rep on the email distribution list for OSH information.
2) Advise WorkSafe WA.
The person conducting the election or the elected OSH rep must notify WorkSafe WA of their election on the specified form available on the WorkSafe website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au
Re-election of OSH reps
Re-election of one or more OSH reps may be necessary at your worksite if:
- The previous OSH rep’s term of office has expired. (Term of office is two years.)
- The OSH rep has transferred out of the school/college or the area of the school/college for which elected.
- The previous OSH rep has resigned.
OSH reps 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 must be followed.
If it is envisaged that the school will be left without a representative for a substantial period – for example, the OSH rep takes parental or long service leave – then a request should be made through the principal to approve a further election in accordance with the Act.
The original rep 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 OSH reps
It is a requirement under the OSH Act that an OSH rep attend an accredited safety course within 12 months of being elected and within six months where possible.
A new representative will find it beneficial to attend training as soon as practicable to understand their role and carry out their functions. The course runs for five full days and OSH reps are entitled to paid leave to attend.
Courses run frequently in the metropolitan area. There are education specific courses for Department of Education employees, or you may choose a general course where participants will be from mixed industries.
If you are based in a country region the department requires you attend a course at the closest regional centre, if available.
For country employees: After you have been elected, please contact the OSH Team at the Department of Education by phone: 9264 8509, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org for information on training options.
If you are in the metro area, you can make a booking to attend SSTUWA education-specific courses via the training tab at www.sstuwa.org.au Country based reps will require permission from the department to travel to Perth.
If you have already attended an introductory course in a previous term of office, you are eligible to attend a two day refresher course. If you attended prior to 2014 it is recommended that you attend the five day training course.
Course costs and reasonable actual expenses are covered by the department, not your individual school.