School operations

Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Management in Schools

2. Information for school health and safety representatives

A health and safety representative (HSR) is an employee who has been elected by the members of their designated work group (DWG) (for example, a school) to represent them, providing a way for their views and concerns about health and safety to be heard by their employer.

A deputy health and safety representative (DHSR) can be elected to support the HSR carry out their functions. The DHSR can also perform the role of HSR if the primary HSR leaves the workplace, or is unable to perform their functions and powers.

HSRs and DHSRs are a valuable addition to school safety and the consultation process. Aiding as a communication link between employees and principals, they serve to raise health and safety issues and collaborate on finding resolutions. The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) enables HSRs to raise issues to management that require resolution and provides them with a mechanism to take unresolved issues further, if necessary.

HSRs are not a mandatory role but are encouraged as they strengthen employee engagement and representation. HSRs are an elected and voluntary role. They are a representative of school staff and not a principal’s delegate. HSRs can make a real difference in achieving better health and safety outcomes.

The following links provide useful information for HSRs elected in schools, or for school leadership interested in running an election process.

Role and powers of health and safety representatives in schools

WorkSafe Victoria provides the following guidance:


WorkSafe Victoria provides the following guidance:

The department’s OHS Consultation and Communication Policy provides further advice on:

  • HSR elections
  • the protections of HSRs
  • school issue resolution processes
  • establishing effective communication forums
  • school requirements for consulting with HSRs.

Workplace safety inspections

When requested, HSRs must also be provided the opportunity to participate in school workplace inspections (refer to Workplace Safety Inspections Policy on PAL). These inspections can take various forms, including:

  • regular inspections of the workplace
  • regular inspections of particular activities or processes
  • specific inspections arising from complaints or concerns by members of the DWG
  • inspections before and following substantial change to the workplace
  • investigations after an incident, injury or near miss
  • inspections conducted by a WorkSafe Inspector.

A HSR may choose to conduct inspections on their own, or jointly, with a management representative. During the inspection, the HSR is entitled to discuss health and safety issues with the employees in their DWG.

Training and refresher courses

It is not compulsory for HSRs to have undertaken specific training, but all HSRs are encouraged to undertake training to gain appropriate knowledge and skills to effectively fulfill the HSR role.

WorkSafe Victoria provide an overview of the trainingExternal Link HSRs are entitled to and approved training providers.

Further support

WorkSafe Victoria provides a HSR newsletterExternal Link which anyone can sign up to receive.

To assist HSRs in their role, WorkSafe Victoria has Health and Safety Representative Support Officers (HSROs)External Link who can provide advice and assistance to HSRs by:

  • clarifying the interpretation and use of Part 7 (Representation of Employees) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic)
  • meeting with HSRs onsite or offsite
  • accompanying an inspector (where appropriate)
  • helping employers to understand their obligations to HSRs.

For further information on the consultation and communication processes and requirements at department workplaces, refer to the OHS Consultation and Communication Policy.

Includes information on the role and powers of HSRs in schools, processes, workplace safety inspections, training and further support

Reviewed 20 January 2023

Was this page helpful?