Do you need a health and safety representative? Gary Wilcox from health and safety system Monit, used by hundreds of Australian bodyshops advises us.
Short answer, no. Best answer, yes.
Firstly, the role of a Health & Safety Rep (HSR) is not to fix health and safety problems, nor be an expert on WHS issues, however the benefits of having one is good for both the business and workers.
•Having a HSR is a clear statement to the authorities your organisation is committed to health and safety by engaging workers to have a responsible role in assisting the organisation to improve its safety culture.
•Their role is to represent workers’ WHS issues that often need to be actively communicated to the business.
•They can often provide an effective way of linking the business to the workforce when it comes to improving safety on the ground. This is particularly helpful in a larger organisation with diverse workers.
•They provide an additional set out of eyes on how effective the business' health and safety is.
Using a third party, off the shelf health and safety system in your panel shop is not in itself a silver bullet to compliance. The real secret to these systems working effectively is to ensure your workers are proactive towards the business’s goal of improving productivity in a safe manner. In other words, a great health and safety system is no match for a poor safety culture.
A worker can volunteer for the position of HSR or be nominated by their peers. Management can also nominate a person; however, they cannot force a worker to be a health and safety rep. In most cases where a worker feels pressured into the position it’s because of a communication issue from management rather than a reluctance to take on the role.
While the decision to use a health and safety rep is optional, if you do decide to have one be sure to offer training and support to get the most value out of their role in your work health and safety management system. Most third-party health and safety providers also provide free ongoing training.