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HSR Super Sleuths Now Empowered to Gather Their Own Evidence

HSRs now have increased powers to document OHS concerns in their workplaces.

HSRs now have increased powers to document OHS concerns in their workplaces.

Blink and you may have missed it, but last week something big happened in the world of OHS. 

After tireless campaigning from Health and Safety Reps, on September 22 the OHS Act 2004 was amended to grant HSRs the ability to take photos, and make measurements, sketches and recordings of OHS concerns in their workplace. This is crucial to an HSR’s ability to bring OHS concerns to the attention of employers and/or WorkSafe. Up until now, HSRs were often prevented from collecting this kind of evidence by employers who - let’s be honest - didn’t always love the idea of their potential OHS breaches being recorded in real time. They would often block HSRs from taking photos or video recordings, citing justifications like privacy breaches yadda yadda yadda. But now, thanks to these latest amendments, those claims won’t wash. 

For UWU members and casino workers like Adrian Lidsey and Chris Ball, this will make their job as HSRs a whole lot easier. 

“By having the ability to take photos and videos we can show the true story. It’s in our hands,” says Adrian. It also means that they can document issues in a timely fashion as they occur. 

“When Worksafe comes in, it’s always Monday to Friday, between 9 and 5. We’re not busy. It’s not a true representation of what it’s like on a Friday or Saturday night.”

A scene of a violent eruption that happened amidst a drunken, chaotic crowd at the venue on a Saturday night will look very different in the calm light of the following day. 

“Occupational violence is an ongoing issue for us, and to truly get a sense of what it’s like here you need to see it at those peak times. The environment tells a story, and it makes its own case for the controls we need.”

HSRs all over Victoria report similar problems. Something might only be a hazard at certain times. Think: a slippery surface when it rains. The environment and the risks don’t always look the same when time passes - so when WorkSafe inspectors can’t be on site in a timely fashion, the role of HSRs to take photos and collect that evidence is vital. 

‘HSR Super Sleuths’ is the theme for this year’s Health and Safety Rep conference coming up on Thursday, October 28. It highlights how HSRs can exercise their powers to uncover hidden hazards and risks at work, and Chris and Adrian are among a terrific line-up of presenters. Register here for this crucially important day of training. All elected HSRs, union officials and OHS enthusiasts are welcome. 

Blink and you may have missed it, but last week something big happened in the world of OHS. Health and Safety Reps have just won new powers to take photos and video to document OHS concerns in their workplaces.

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