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Safety roles and duties

Everyone has a role to play in keeping their place of work safe. But formal health and safety roles such as work groups, health and safety representatives and health and safety committees have an essential role to play.

These roles are beneficial because they give workers a voice in health and safety matters.

The safety roles you need will depend on the size of your business and the nature of your work.

Health and safety representatives play an essential role in addressing health and safety issues in the workplace. They're elected by members of their work group and provide employees with a way to have their views heard by employers.

What's the role of a health and safety representative?

The primary role of a health and safety representative is to represent the health and safety interests of a work group and to raise any issues with their employer.

The powers and functions of health and safety representatives are covered under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Learn more about health and safety representatives.

What's a work group?

A work group is made up of workers with similar workplace health and safety concerns.

Work groups might be made up of:

  • workers in certain roles such as engineers, nurses, drivers
  • workers exposed to a specific hazard, for example workshop staff, office staff or remote workers
  • workers in a geographical location.

The work group members provide feedback and advice to their employer via their health and safety representative.

What are the benefits of work groups?

Work groups allow employees to be properly represented in workplace health and safety issues.

How are work groups established?

Any worker or group of workers can ask their employer to facilitate the election of a health and safety representative.

The employer must then negotiate with their workers and agree on the details of work groups to be represented. Once these work groups are identified, elections for their representatives are held. Your organisation may have one representative who represents all workers, or multiple representatives representing different work groups.

Health and safety committees allow businesses and workers to collaborate on health and safety matters.

A committee works well if you have a large business and need to consult on matters that are the same across several work groups or workplaces.

What's the role of a health and safety committee?

The primary purpose of a committee is to help departments, managers, and workers to collaborate on and resolve health and safety concerns.

They do this by:

  • providing a place for committee members to discuss health and safety issues
  • developing plans or procedures to resolve issues
  • recommending corrective actions to reduce hazards.

How are health and safety committees established?

A health and safety committee can be established by a business or employer, or when requested by:

  • a health and safety representative, or
  • five or more workers, or
  • when required by the WHS Regulation.

Learn more about health and safety committees.

Some larger employers in Queensland are required to appoint a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator.

Do I need to appoint a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator?

You must appoint a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator (RRTWC) if you meet the criteria outlined in the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Regulation 2014.

You must let us know the details of your RRTWC including:

  • their name and contact details
  • the address of each workplace they are the appointed RRTWC for
  • a short statement that confirms how they are appropriately qualified, for example: [RRTWC name] is appropriately qualified as they have [insert] years of experience and/or training and qualifications in [description] and/or the knowledge and skills to perform the role.

You also need to notify us if your RRTWC changes.

You can do this by calling us, or through WorkCover Connect.

What's the role of a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator?

The coordinator supports an injured worker to return to work by:

  • making contact with the worker as soon as possible following their injury
  • coordinating the worker's return to work
  • developing a suitable duties plan
  • communicating with key stakeholders such as the employer, doctors and insurer.

It's the employer's responsibility to make sure the rehabilitation and return to work coordinator has the appropriate skills and knowledge to perform the role.

Learn more about the approved training courses that are available.

If a coordinator is responsible for more than one place of work, you must ensure they can adequately perform their duties across all those locations.

Find out more about rehabilitation and return to work coordinators.

Work health and safety officers play an important role in minimising health and safety risks. Work health and safety officers are appointed by management of a business. They can be a staff member or one of the management team themselves.

What is the role of a work health and safety officer?

The duties of a work health and safety officer include:

  • identifying and reporting health and safety risks
  • investigating incidents
  • educating staff about work health and safety.

To be appointed as a work health and safety officer under the Work Health and Safety Act the person needs to have completed an approved training course.

Appointing a work health and safety officer is a good way to upskill workers in work health and safety. But employers are still able to hire a work health and safety professional or consultant if needed.

View the WHSO information guide (PDF, 0.21 MB)