Your questions answered: Does WHS committee members need extra training?

By Portner Press on May 17th, 2019
  1. Work Health & Safety Act
  2. Workplace health & safety regulations

Q
Our construction services company in NSW has just elected its first WHS committee. Do we have to provide anyone with official training to be a part of the WHS committee?

The workers are highly trained in their roles for high-risk work but do not hold any formal WHS training. No one has requested the training.

One committee member will be our company WHS manager, who has a diploma in WHS and a Cert IV in TAE. The rest of the committee will comprise our construction staff.

A
There is no requirement to train members of the Health and Safety Committee. However, if a member of the Health and Safety Committee is also a health and safety representative (HSR), you may have some training obligations on that basis.

Section 72 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (Act) and section 21 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW) (Regulations) deal with the obligations of a PCBU in respect of HSR training.

The Act requires a PCBU to allow HSRs to attend a training course in work health and safety if requested. Otherwise, there is no mandatory requirement for HSRs to attend training.

If an HSR requests training, a PCBU must:

  • within 3 months of the request, allow the HSR to be absent from work to attend training; and
  • pay the course fees and other reasonable costs associated with attendance at the course in addition to the HSRs ordinary pay for the duration of the course.

The training course must be one that is approved by SafeWork, that the HSR is entitled to attend under the Regulations, and that the HSR chooses in consultation with the PCBU.

The Regulations provide further detail as to the type of course that an HSR is entitled to attend, which includes:

  • an initial training course of 5 days; and
  • 1-day refresher training each year, with the entitlement to the first refresher training commencing 1 year after the initial training.

For further information, we recommend reading chapter C3 Consultation, Representatives and Committees in the Health & Safety Handbook.

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