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HSR News March 2023 | I'm an HSR and this is my story...

RobynRobyn has worked in her role as a school cleaner for the past five and a half years, been a union delegate for the past three years and completed her five-day HSR training in December 2022.

Becoming a Health and Safety Rep was a “no brainer” for Robyn. She witnessed health and safety issues (from low level issues to serious WHS matters) and when she tried to raise these issues, she was told to “mind her own business”. Robyn said, “It felt like because we were cleaners we didn’t matter”. Robyn knew the only way to address these health and safety issues was to nominate and be elected as the HSR for her work group.

Since Robyn became an HSR she has been busy at her workplace addressing outstanding and new health and safety matters.

We asked Robyn if she would mind sharing some issues she has experienced or personally addressed, and this is what she had to say…


“This was dealt with before I had finished my course. I didn’t have all my powers as an HSR, I did however have the power to call and raise the issue with the Regulator and as a result an inspector was sent to assist with the matter. My employer ticked all the boxes and answered all the questions correctly, and as such the matter was closed by the inspector. It did, however, make my employer improve their procedures and they are now being followed correctly. So, I class this as a win”.

Falling Tree

“This was a major issue, the tree’s roots were out of the ground, the tree was falling and crushing an old roof of a pathway within the school. After many emails, getting told I have no right to tell them what to do and the refusal to follow any advice, I issued a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN). Two inspectors were assigned to the matter and visited the school.

“The tree lopper removed the tree very quickly before the inspector/s arrived.

“I learnt a lot from this and was complimented on my PIN, the inspector commented that I had done very well.

“The inspector also said if the tree had not been removed the PIN would have stood but the inspector and I decided the PIN would be cancelled and so I cancelled it.

“One would have thought that the school would have been happy with that, but they appeared more upset that it was classed as a “cancelled PIN”. They then brought in their own Queensland Education Health and Safety Senior Consultant that I had to attend a meeting with along with my
union representatives.

“As far as I am concerned it was another WHS win, as the tree was removed, and our health and safety procedures are now being followed and carried out a little more than before.”

Robyn told us she is currently dealing with two other serious health and safety issues and being the only HSR for a site that has 300+ staff means it’s a big job.

There are minimal WHS structures in place, meaning they do the minimum to meet compliance. Robyn told us the only way to improve the culture and health and safety issues is to: negotiate actual work groups and elect HSRs for those work groups; have good WHS structures in place; and ensure an ongoing commitment to working together to prevent health and safety incidents occurring.

“I am on my own as the HSR and it has been tough. I have not really been given
or shown support from the PCBU,” Robyn said.

“It feels like me vs the PCBU, and every WHS issue I raise is a fight to have
it resolved.”

The election of other HSRs at Robyn’s site would really help and provide the support she needs. Until then Robyn will continue to conduct her role as the HSR to its fullest capacity.

Robyn also commented on the new Psychosocial Hazard Code of Practice (COP) and Regulation as she is currently dealing with a matter that she has described as “bullying”. Even though the information she has received about the new COP has been informative she would like more training. She is, however, looking forward to seeing how it will help address these risks at her workplace.

In closing Robyn described how the last few months as a qualified HSR has been for her and I think this says it all…

“Over the last couple of months, it has been hard at times, and you actually start questioning, ‘are you doing this right?’ Or ‘what have I got myself into?’”

“I did this and then I was sent the below email, which I have printed, and it is up on my notice board so when I feel overwhelmed, I just read this, and everything falls back into perspective.

Doing this job, you need people to support you and the HSR Discussion Group (FB page) is a great place to start. I would still love an HSR EDU Facebook page or chat room but Kylie, Scott and my Union Organiser Julie have given me great support, I couldn’t do it without them”.

This is the email that was sent to me and is posted on my noticeboard at work:

post it

kylie boxShare your HSR story!

We love to hear your stories, celebrate your wins, listen to your struggles, and hear your thoughts on what is working and what isn’t.

Therefore, each month for as long as you want to keep telling your stories we will be featuring at least one HSR telling theirs.

If you are interested and would like your story heard, send me a message to 0429 985 268 or email and I will be in touch.


WorkCover Queensland - Information you need to know

Most of you will have heard of WorkCover and most of you will have either contacted WorkCover due to a work-related injury/incident or will know someone who has.

(I acknowledge there are some private insurers out there, but WorkCover is the main insurer for Queensland.)

Recently I asked Chrissy from WorkCover (Chrissy is also an HSR) to give us a bit of insight into the hard work that goes into being such a large insurer and what are some tips she could give you, (not only as the HSR but also as a worker) should you or a work colleague find yourself needing to contact WorkCover.

Chrissy was kind enough to answer the following questions:

What is the role of WorkCover?

WorkCover Queensland has been providing workers’ compensation insurance in Queensland for more than twenty years.

Supporting Queensland workers and businesses is at the heart of everything we do. From customer service and managing claims, to accessing rehabilitation, preventing injuries, and making sure businesses have the right cover to protect their team – we’re here for Queenslanders.

The most important thing for us is keeping Queenslanders working and we understand everyone’s needs are different. This means we’ll work with you to make sure you get the best outcome for
your situation.

How does a worker who has been injured lodge a claim with WorkCover?

  1. See your doctor or go to the hospital immediately for initial treatment.
  2. Get a work capacity certificate from your doctor.
  3. Ensure there is a clear diagnosis of the injury.
  4. Let your employer know what has happened as soon as you can and give them a copy of your work capacity certificate.
  5. Make a claim with WorkCover (or talk to your employer if they are self-insured).
  6. Begin rehabilitation as soon as you can. This will help your recovery and your employer is obligated to help you with this.

In relation to WHS has there been a noticeable increase in claims over the last five years and is there a particular area where this increase has considerably increased?

Looking at workers’ compensation scheme statistics reports from the site, workers compensation scheme statistics 2021-22 pocket book, the statutory claim rate is down 8.8% from the previous year, which might be due to the pandemic. Over the past five years, the one claim type that makes up the largest proportion is musculoskeletal disorders, commonly known as MSDs for short,

MSDs may include conditions such as:

  • Sprains and strains of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Back injuries, including damage to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal discs, nerves, joints, and bones.
  • Joint and bone injuries or degeneration, including injuries to the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle, hands, and feet.
  • Nerve injuries or compression
    (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome).
  • Muscular and vascular disorders as a result of hand-arm vibration.
  • Soft tissue hernias.
  • Chronic pain.

MSDs occur in two ways:

  • Gradual wear and tear to joints, ligaments, muscles, and inter-vertebral discs caused by repeated or continuous use of the same body parts, including static body positions.
  • Sudden damage caused by strenuous activity, or unexpected movements such as when loads being handled move or change position suddenly.

Our website has a wealth of information that can help anyone wanting to know how to prevent MSD injuries occurring.


Meet Scott - QCU's WHS Training Coordinator

ScottScott joined the QCU Health and Safety team in November of 2022 as a WHS Training Coordinator. Scott also leads training at Safe Work College.

Scott’s principal role is as the WHS Training Coordinator taking responsibility for delivery of Health and Safety Representatives’ (HSRs) training and working with Kylie Muscat in the HSR Support Service, primarily around training needs for HSRs.

Scott first started working in the 1990s as a union organiser and has never lost his passion for workers’ rights. He is also an experienced union educator and trainer from the United Workers Union.

We asked Scott his thoughts now he has been in the role a few months, and this is what he had to say…

 “It’s been a great, challenging experience!

“I really see HSRs getting so much out of going through training with others from different industries. Hearing the variety of issues HSRs face in different workplaces adds context and insight in how the principles can be applied.

“The confidence balloons in the room when they realise the power at their disposal as HSRs and get encouragement and advice from one another. They’ve created some great new support networks as a result.”


International Working Women’s Day

IWWD is celebrated every year on the 8th of March, and the very first Australian International Women’s Day was held in 1928 in Sydney. In 1929 the event spread to Brisbane, and in 1931, annual marches were launched in both Sydney and Melbourne, along with other States who later followed and continue to march today.

Since these early days, International Working Women’s Day has continued to grow. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievements, and both highlight and work to address barriers that continue to perpetuate gender inequality.

On Saturday the 10th of March, workers from across Brisbane gathered with the QCU to do exactly that.

We heard from strong working women, who spoke of their ongoing struggles, and what we can do and must do as a society to make change.

There was a common thread between most of the stories – “health and safety” issues. In particular, the Psychosocial hazards/risks and related injuries.

The diverse turnout of support showed it doesn’t matter who you are, where you
are from, what you do or how you identify.
All agreed working women deserve to be treated equally and feel safe while at work.

As only “together”, “united” and “equal”, can we create a healthy and safe working environment for all workers.


coming events hsr

Stay tuned! In next month’s HSR Newsletter we’ll cover Claims, Psychosocial injuries and WorkCover – including the benefit of having Health & Safety Reps in the workplace.