The Role of Health and Safety Representatives

Health and Safety representatives are employees who are elected based on votes from fellow staff members.  They are not safety officers appointed by the employer (school) and are only accountable to the employees.  There are no legal duties involved.

All employers (schools) who have more than 20 employees must appoint a representative for every 50 employees, and this representative must be employed on a full-time basis.

Stack of school books

The functions of the health and safety representative includes the following:

  • Review the effectiveness of all health and safety measures
  • Investigate potential hazards
  • Make inquiries into causes of accidents
  • Investigate employee complaints and concerns
  • Carry out routine inspections of the school (between once a month and once every three months)
  • Represent employees in consultations
  • Discuss courses of action with the employer (school)
  • Stay up-to-date with current legal standards and requirements
  • Writing reports for the employer (school) following inspections and investigations

Rights of the health and safety representative:

  • Inspections and other duties are to be performed during working hours and time should be provided for this purpose.
  • During unique circumstances (such as a recent accident) the health and safety representative may have more frequent inspections or investigation time.
  • Inspections can be taken at any time at the representative’s own initiative.
  • Training and inspection checklists need to be provided, as well as guidance where necessary.
  • They may inspect and take copies of any document pertaining to health and safety that the employer (school) has available.  This includes policy statements, safety manuals, and investigation reports
  • The freedom to investigate any complaints and concerns raised by the employees.
  • They are not entitled to any remuneration over and above their salary (unless it involves over-time).
  • Access to facilities such as a telephone and internet for their duties.

For health and safety representatives, as well as the employer (school) and other employees, the idea of legal compliance is often confusing.  

Posted date: 26th May 2017
Educational Services Industry

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