Skip navigation

Procedure: Work health and safety committees and representatives


This procedure describes how the Australian National University (ANU) coordinates the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Committees and Health Safety Representatives (HSRs), and cooperates on health, safety, rehabilitation and claims matters. WHS Committees and Representatives are established at the University to meet the consultation requirement of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (WHS Act), the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth) (WHS Regulation), and the Safety and Rehabilitation Compensation Act 1998 (Cth). This procedure also aligns with the Work Health and Safety Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination Code of Practice. This procedure is linked to the University’s Work Health and Safety Policy and is one of the WHS Management System Procedures.


Advisory groups are groups of specialists who are appointed by the University’s WHS Committee to provide specialist advice on WHS topics across the University, but do not vote on decisions on WHS matters.

Consultation is a two-way process between the University and workers where both parties:

  • Communicate to each other about health and safety matters;
  • Listen to each other’s concerns and raise their own concerns;
  • Seek and share views and information; and
  • Consider what the workers’ say before the University makes decisions.

Consultation does not require consensus or agreement between workers but must allow workers to contribute to any health and safety decisions to be made in the University/College/School/Division.

Chair / Co-Chair are the nominated roles within the WHS committee, sub-committee or Advisory Groups to lead the respective meetings. The roles are detailed in the relevant University Committee Charters with a term as decided within their charter.

Health and Safety Representative (HSR) is a nominated or an elected member of a workgroup with obligations as per the WHS Act. This role of a HSR is to represent workers on safety and health matters.

Secretariat supports the record keeping for the WHS Committees and Advisory Groups.

WHS Committee in the University consists of University WHS Committee (a management committee) and a series of Local WHS Committees which are sub-committees of the University.

WHS Governance structure is the University framework showing reporting and communication flow between workers and managers on WHS matters. It comprises WHS Committees, Advisory Groups and Senior Management.

Workers is anyone who carries out work for the University and include staff, Visiting and Honorary Appointments (VaHA), volunteers, titleholders, affiliates, labour hiring workers, student gaining work experience and contractors of ANU. HDR students may be ANU workers depending on their role but they are covered under the scope of this chapter.

The Work Health and Safety Management System (WHSMS) Handbook provides practical guidance for the University and its local areas on how to implement the University WHS Management System and defines the responsibilities and actions required by management and workers within the management system.



  1. This procedure applies to establishing and coordinating the activities of the WHS Committees and HSRs for the purpose of formal consultation on health and safety matters. This procedure describes the processes for:
  • establishing the WHS Governance structure;
  • responsibilities of the WHS Committees;
  • selecting HSRs; and
  • responsibilities of HSRs.
  1. The WHS Communication and consultation procedure includes the processes for consultation on WHS matters at the University and resolving WHS complaints and other issues.

WHS Governance structure

Establishing the WHS Governance Structure at the University

  1. The University has established a WHS Governance structure, available on the WEG website, for workers representatives and management for consultation on WHS, and review of WHS issues and matters. This structure was developed in consultation with the University’s management and workers in 2016 and is approved by the University Council.
  2. A WHS Secretariat will distribute agendas and papers, take minutes and keep records for the WHS Committees using the WHS committees agenda.
  3. The various WHS Committees and Advisory Groups operate in accordance with their Charter and WHSMS Handbook Chapter 3.20 guidance.

Establishing new WHS Committees

  1. Any HSR or worker may request in writing that the University facilitates the establishment of a new local WHS committee as per the WHS Act, provided they satisfy the composition requirements. The University WHS Committee will facilitate the requestors for the new local WHS Committee within four weeks of the request. However, these new local WHS committees may or may not be included in the University WHS Governance Structure.
  2. At least half of the new WHS Committee members will consist of workers who are not nominated by management.
  3. HSRs may choose to be members of their WHS Committee.
  4. Established WHS Committees may at any time initiate an Advisory Group that reports directly to the WHS Committee. Any new advisory group must have an approved charter, standard agenda and minutes, and documented reporting to the WHS committee.

Changes to WHS Committees

  1. Where there is insufficient representation on a WHS Committee, Table 1 lists the actions to be taken.

Table 1 Recommendations when WHS Committee composition changes


Recommended actions

HSR vacates their position

A HSR shall resign in writing with all members of the Work Group they represent, Local WHS Committee Chair, Directors and Deans and WEG.

If the HSR is also a committee member, the WHS Committee seek additional volunteers if needed to meet composition requirements.

Chair vacates their position

The Chair consults the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Associate Director WEG before making this decision.

Inform the committee in writing and the co-chair acts in the role until a new Chair (Senior Management position) is appointed.

Members vacate their position

The Chair seeks additional volunteers if needed to meet composition requirements.

Responsibilities of WHS Committees

  1. The University WHS Committee is a management committee which consists of:
  • Chair (Chief Operating Officer - Appointed by the Vice-Chancellor);
  • All Chairs of the Chair’s representatives from Local WHS Committee and within the WHS Governance Structure;
  • Director, Human Resources; and
  • Associate Director, Work Environment Group.
  1. All Local WHS Committees will decide the composition and roles to be filled as follows:
  • Chair (most senior member of the area under the Local WHS Committee);
  • Co-Chair (elected from the members of the workgroup);
  • HSR (elected or deemed elected where nominations from the workgroup do not exceed vacancies as per the Act - see the section below on electing HSRs) of Work Groups, who choose to be on the committee; and
  • Half of the Committee members must be workers who are not nominated/appointed by management.
  1. The WHS Committees will meet on a regular and planned basis of at least every three months. Each WHS Committee prepares a charter in line with the University WHS committee charter available on the Governance website.
  2. The WHS Committees are responsible for documenting discussion points and decisions from every meeting into minutes. These minutes will be stored in accordance with WHSMS Handbook Chapter 3.20 requirements.
  3. The Local WHS Committee Chairs and Secretariat ensure that a Standard Agenda Template is used as per WHSMS Handbook Chapter 3.20 Appendix B.
  4. A listing of WHS Committee Chairs and HSRs is made available to workers on the WEG website.

University safety advisory groups

  1. Each of the safety advisory groups identified in the approved governance structure must provide a quarterly report to the University WHS Committee. It is the responsibility of the Chairperson of those safety advisory groups to ensure the report is delivered.
  2. The COO will provide direction to each of the advisory groups following Council’s review of the Annual WHS Report and discuss any WHS recommendations which apply to the specialty function of each advisory group.
  3. Each of the advisory groups reviews the Annual WHS Report as an agenda item, adds any applicable actions from the COO or Council to the respective corrective actions list and develops an action plan for the current year.

Health and Safety Representatives

  1. The University recognises that workers have a right to participate in decision making that affects their health and safety by committing to support HSRs to provide representation.

Election of HSRs

  1. Any worker may request in writing that the University facilitates the election of a new HSR.
  2. Certain positions and roles are excluded from becoming HSRs due to conflicts of interest. These positions include:
  3. WHS managers, officers, advisors and consultants; and
    University Executives and local senior managers.
  1. Calls for nominations are followed by an election of those nominated, facilitated by the University HSR Nomination and Election Returning Officer.
  2. If there is an equal number of nominees to vacant positions, no election is needed.

Responsibilities of HSRs

  1. HSRs perform their duties and legislated powers in accordance with WHS Act 2011 (Cth) Part 5 Division 3 and in accordance with WHSMS Handbook Chapter 3.20 Section 3.20.3 Health and Safety Representatives.
  2. A HSR can only cease unsafe work, provide PINs and give notice for workplace entry after attending Comcare approved HSR training as per the WHS Act 2011 (Cth).

Cessation of unsafe work

  1. Anyone at the University has the right to cease unsafe work they are asked to perform. A trained HSR may give direction for a worker to cease unsafe work in accordance with situations described in WHSMS Handbook Chapter
  2. The appropriate Supervisor, Manager and Director or delegate follows WHSMS Handbook Chapter 3.20 Section to resolve the cessation of work. The worker directed to cease work informs their immediate line manager and remains available for alternate work until the issue is resolved.

Provision of Improvement Notices (PINS)

  1. A HSR issues a PIN if they reasonably believe that the University or its local areas:
  2. is in contravention of a provision of the WHS Act 2011 (Cth); or
  3. has contravened a provision of the WHS Act 2011 (Cth) in circumstances that make it likely that the contravention will continue to be repeated.
  4. The HSR cannot issue a provisional notice to the University unless they first consult with the local area Director where the PIN is to be issued. This consultation is done by going through the Agreed WHS Issue Resolution Process. The notice is in writing and meets the requirements of the WHS Act 2011 (Cth).

Workplace entry

  1. A trained HSR gives no less than 24 hours notice to the Chair of their respective committee in order to inspect a part of the workplace covered by a PIN. The HSR can also inspect a workplace without providing notice in the event of an incident or situation involving an immediate and serious risk to the health of a worker.

Training for WHS Committee members and HSRs

  1. WHS Committee training is required for WHS committee members.
  2. HSRs are entitled to attend five days of training in work health and safety practices and refresher training course every year. This training is delivered by a provider approved by Comcare. However, it is the HSR’s decision on whether to attend the training or not.
  3. Training records are maintained as per the WHS training procedure.
  4. This procedure is fully explained in and supplemented by WHSMS Handbook Chapter 3.20 WHS Committees and Representatives.


Refer to ANU WHS Legal and Other Requirements Matrix.


Printable version (PDF)
Title Work health and safety committees and representatives
Document Type Procedure
Document Number ANUP_015808
Purpose This procedure describes how the Australian National University (ANU) coordinates the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Committees and Health Safety Representatives (HSR), and cooperates on health, safety, rehabilitation and claims matters.
Audience Staff
Category Administrative
Topic/ SubTopic Health, Safety & Environment - Occupational Health & Safety
Effective Date 7 May 2020
Next Review Date 1 Jul 2025
Responsible Officer: Chief People Officer
Approved By: Chief Operating Officer
Contact Area Safety and Wellbeing
Authority: Work Health & Safety Act 2011
Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011
Delegations 0

Information generated and received by ANU staff in the course of conducting business on behalf of ANU is a record and should be captured by an authorised recordkeeping system. To learn more about University records and recordkeeping practice at ANU, see ANU recordkeeping and Policy: Records and archives management.

Related Content

WHS Committee Charter