• Lucille N
    7
    Would be grateful if someone could “talk” this one through with me please.
    We are a motor vehicle sales and service site.
    We have approx 80 staff on site. We currently have five health and safety reps. We no longer have a health and safety rep in the showroom due to staff movements. There is a manager who is apart of the health and safety committee, and two first aiders based in this showroom. Is it necessary to appoint a new HSR person?(very little interest from anyone to take on the role)
    The other HSRs are in other department/areas away from this showroom
  • MattD2
    237
    It really depends what your companies employee consultation procedures requires - if it says each area requires a HSR then there either needs to be one or you need to change the procedure (with consultation with the workers on the change).
    The legal requirements are that you engage with workers on health and safety matters and provide them with opportunity to participate in improving workplace health and safety. There are specific for the requirements in the legislation for HSRs and Safety committees if they have been requested - but the caveat is these apply when HSRs or a Committee is requested by the workers... and given no-one is will to be nominated for the replacement HSR I wouldn't expect they have specifically asked for one.

    Again since no-one is willing to volunteer to be the showroom HSR, if it were me the key action would be to agree with the workers on what good engagement and participation looks like to them and then do that.

    (Note: given you have 80 staff and 4 HSR you are compliant with the prescribed minimum ratio, although hire one more person and you won't be ;))
  • KeithH
    94
    @Lucille N
    Just to clarify,
    First, HSRs are not appointed. They are elected by workers who are part of a specific workgroup.

    Second, the PCBU determines the workgroups.
    Members of a workgroup may request an HSR to be elected. The PCBU may decline the request if the number of workers in a workgroup is less than 19. If the number of workers in a workgroup is 19 or more, elections must be held.
    If the number of workers in a workgroup are less than 19 but the PCBU operates in a high risk sector or industry, HSRs are required upon request. High risk sectors or industries are listed in Schedule 2 of the HSW Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation Regs.

    If no HSRs are required or even elected, the PCBU still needs to have systems for worker engagement and participation.

    Keep in mind there is a difference between HSRs. HSRs who have completed training including attaining Unit Standard 29315 can utilise all the functions of an HSR. Those who have completed training but not attained the Unit Standard cannot issue PINs (Provisional Improvement Notices) or direct unsafe work to stop. Both types of HSRs can carry out all other HSR functions.
    Note that HSRs have functions and not duties. Thus, they have no responsibilities and no legal obligations.

    SiteSafe have an outline of the process here.

    Just my ramblings
  • Lucille N
    7
    @MattD2 Thanks Matt. That sounds sensible. After discussing with them today they felt health and safety issues could easily be raised with the appropriate people and they felt they were managing risks ie trip hazards by implementing controls straight away.

    @keithH Thanks for the additional information Keith, if the HSRs were not specifically requested by the workgroup, but as a way the PCBU has chosen to implement greater worker participation and a better representation for workers outside of management, are they still classed as HSRs? It should be noted, all "HSRs" volunteered and it was made optional to any person, as there was only a handful of volunteers they were all selected.
  • Tony Walton
    116
    My take on this Lucille is your volunteers are not HSR's unless specifically elected by a workgroup and they have attended union or other approved HSR training courses. All that means is they can issue the PCBU with formal/legal health & safety improvement notices. We could also call them health & safety committee members who represent staff in their work area. A much more proactive, positive and collaborative arrangement.
  • KeithH
    94
    @Lucille N
    HSRs are chosen by the workers and thus representative of the workers.
    IMHO what you described is a method by management to create a conduit to workers for worker engagement and participation.

    Since the selection of workers was made by management, IMO the people are are not HSRs as described in the HSW Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation Regs.
    To determine what the people can be called/designated will be determined by what functions they conduct, any duties and responsibilities required, and how they attained the position. I get the impression these people are appointees - done by management with the best of intentions - and described as HSRs in lieu of any other title for people in these types of positions.

    If, as @Tony Walton mentions, your business has a H&S Committee or Committees these people are active in, then they are more likely to be H&S Committee members.

    For the future, clarifying the title designation may have inherent issues. The main one is a loss of trust by workers with the people in the positions. Management may wish to open discussions with workers to allow workers to take ownership and make a decision on how they wish to move forward.
    To leave the status quo may create a situation where a H&S person inadvertently makes a move into an area where they place themselves and the business at risk.

    My ramblings again.
  • Lucille N
    7
    @KeithH @Tony Walton Talking this through with my manager this morning, who posed the question, can they be called "Voluntary H&S Representatives". In your opinions, is this moving far enough away from the HSR title and the subsequent election requirements?
  • Tony Walton
    116
    Don't see why not Lucille. Many business's do this quite successfully. Maybe consider what training they need and their role within the health & safety committee which in turn makes recommendations to management.
  • Don Ramsay
    87
    go through the election process and see what comes of it....
  • KeithH
    94
    @Lucille N
    Consider having to explain to a WorkSafe inspector what "Voluntary H&S Representatives" are, the roles they play and the functions they perform. That's your test case situation. More so if the inspector is there because something has gone pear-shaped.

    Consider also, the reasons management recommended the need for these roles and the reasons workers did not request elections for HSRs. Consider whether there is a need for these roles. Management and workers need to openly discuss this and it will take time.

    Review your safety management systems and openly discuss the best methods for engagement and participation. It may be these roles are suitable in which case elections are not required, or it could be the complete opposite.

    As @Don Ramsey suggests, an option is to conduct an election process. This is a straight forward process - with potential outcomes that management may be unaware of. See Sections 21-26 inclusive of the Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation Regs.

    Another option is to rename the designation - intermediary springs to mind for me. There are pros and cons for this that have been discussed earlier.

    Generally, I get the impression that management just want this to go away. However, the genie is out of the bottle and no-one is sure how to get it back in.

    Keep in mind that effectively the goal is how to give workers a conduit to management, how management can realise worker's concerns and how both parties can meet their obligations under the HSWA.

    My ramblings
  • MattD2
    237
    Since the selection of workers was made by management, IMO the people are are not HSRs as described in the HSW Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation Regs.KeithH
    To be honest very few organisations in NZ would have "true - HSWA defined" HSR - illustrated by Air NZ winning the top award at the 2019 Safeguard awards for essentially "holding HSR elections as per the legislation". And I would also bet that a lot current HSR / Committees in NZ businesses today don't actually fulfill the intended functions under the Act anyway, regardless if those HSRs were elected or not.

    key thing is to be consistent - whatever you call your "HSRs" make sure they know what their role is in your worker consultation process, and make sure the worker consultation process as a whole is understood by everyone.
    Once their is agreement on how the process works, it is best that you write it down. Also ensure that there is a periodic review of the process, what works for the team now might not in the future when people have come and gone from the business. Having the process clearly written down will help with this. One critical point to add is to make sure the process is not just reactive, but includes the process for proactively seeking workers' input on H&S matters, especially when there will be a change to their "normal" work (S60 of the Act gives some high level situations)
    The two clear requirements in the legislation are that you need to (S58-60) engage with workers regarding H&S, and (S61) have practices which include workers in improving workplace H&S. Get these in place without your workers feeling like they have to invoke the other sections relating to elections or committees and I would bet that you will have much better worker engagement practices compared to another company who has reverted to complying with the basics of the legislation.

    As Don Ramsey suggests, an option is to conduct an election process. This is a straight forward process - with potential outcomes that management may be unaware of. See Sections 21-26 inclusive of the Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation Regs.KeithH

    Might be harder than you think guys - as one of the main reasons for this thread in the first place was that there was "very little interest from anyone to take on the role", which will likely end up in a situation where there are no eligible nominees in the showroom area... and we are back to square one of "well do we need one if no one wants to be one?"
  • KeithH
    94
    Might be harder than you think guys - as one of the main reasons for this thread in the first place was that there was "very little interest from anyone to take on the role", which will likely end up in a situation where there are no eligible nominees in the showroom area... and we are back to square one of "well do we need one if no one wants to be one?"MattD2
    I disagree with this statement Matt.

    Elections can be initiated by the PCBU - S62(2) HSWA

    Persons can self nominate - S9(2) Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation Regs.
    The current "office holders' are all volunteers -
    It should be noted, all "HSRs" volunteered and it was made optional to any person, as there was only a handful of volunteers they were all selected.Lucille N

    Therefore if they are the only one in the workgroup standing for the position, are automatically elected - S15(1) Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation Regs.

    - straight forward really.
  • KeithH
    94
    @Lucille N in the showroom if the
    manager who is apart of the health and safety committeeLucille N
    is not an officer of the business, then that person may possibly be nominated.
  • MattD2
    237
    straight forward really.KeithH
    Agree that the process for holding HSR elections should be straight forward, my comment was specifically regarding that since there was little interest from anyone taking on the role that there is a reasonable likelihood that there might be no one to vote for (or even to just assume the position).
    As you point out the Manager may be eligible to fill the role, or they could be incorporated into another work group, but while those "solutions" may be technically compliant with the Act, there is a good chance they don't actually produce the processes the Act intended.
  • Lucille N
    7
    @MattD2 @KeithH I think the culture of the company needs to be weighed before jumping straight into an election process. As there is somewhat of an "old school" mentality towards health and safety, which has slowly been improving over the years, due to management creating more opportunities for participation from workers, particularly through the role of a health and safety committee, where the workers are given a voice through our "Voluntary HSRs".

    However, slowly but surely is the approach being adopted for changing the culture of the workplace. With the intention for health and safety to be inherently part of the everyday culture rather than the ominous health and safety cloud that has people view it as something that slows down work production and stops autonomy of work.

    Part of the bigger picture and evolving health and safety in the company, holding HSR elections are certainly an option to work towards in the very near future. There is some hesitancy due to the current "Voluntary HSRs" having dedicated themselves to their roles, and are the ones keenly interested in H&S. At this stage, it may do more harm than good to hold an election, when they are more than likely voted in again due to lack of interest and they are left feeling less than valued.
  • KeithH
    94
    @Lucille N to accelerate culture change, management buy in is needed. Planning is required so benefits are presented to both management and workers. Compliance with legislation doesn't work with old school.

    Talk to people in terms they understand.
    Management will be interested in dollars and cents so the return on investment as described in Phillip’s model of training may help.
    By making the benefits personal for workers, interest can be fostered. Whanau involvement may help.

    Start with small achievable goals to show management how the fiscal position can be improved by demonstrating the connections between strategy, policies and procedures. Workers will be more interested in personal benefits.

    Just my ramblings
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