Are we required to have a work group and HSR at every site across the country?
Our organisation operates at multiple sites across the country. Are we required to have a work group and HSR at every site? Or can we have one work group per state or sector, and invite one worker from each site to form part of their state/sector work group, with that work group electing an HSR?
The obligation to form work groups and appoint an HSR only triggers when, as per sections 50 and 51 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act), a worker requests to have an HSR elected. In determining who will make up your organisation’s work groups and the terms of these work groups, you have an obligation as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) under the WHS Act to negotiate and agree with the workers (or their representatives) on:
- the number and composition of work groups to be represented by HSRs;
- the number of HSRs and deputy HSRs (if any) to be elected;
- the workplace or workplaces to which the work groups will apply; and
- the businesses or undertakings to which the work groups will apply.
Under regulation 16 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW) (Regulation), negotiations for, and determination of, work groups and variations of work groups must be directed at ensuring that the workers are grouped in a way that:
- most effectively and conveniently enables the interests of the workers, in relation to work health and safety, to be represented; and
- has regard to the need for an HSR for the work group to be readily accessible to each worker in the work group.
Work groups generally include all workers from the particular group to which the HSR will represent. Given that you are proactively forming work groups, we would suggest all workers from these groups are consulted on the above. You are entitled to propose the workgroup/HSR configuration you have suggested, but it must be agreed upon by the workers.