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Can a HSE Committee member be prosecuted for failing to fulfill his functions?

by , 15 November 2013
As you know, a Health, Safety and Environment representative (HSE rep or HSE officer) is an employee that other employees nominate and elect to represent them on matters that relate to their health and safety at work (including environmental matters that relate to their workspace). But do you know what happens when a HSE officer fails to fulfill his duties, can you have him prosecuted? Read on to find out...

One of the most commonly asked questions about HSE officers is whether or not they can be prosecuted when they fail to adhere to their safety duties.

Here's what the law says about HSE reps who fail to adhere to their safety duties

According to Louise Harty, Senior Product Manager behind How to appoint the best HSE representatives – your complete guide, technically, a HSE officer could be held liable for their acts and omissions as an employee who happens to also be appointed as a HSE rep.

But, 'it's extremely unlikely that the acts and omissions of the HSE rep will result in prosecution of the HSE rep in question as it's the employer's duty to ensure compliance with all aspects of the OHSA,' explains Harty.

She adds that as an employer, you carry vicarious liability for the acts and omissions of your employees. This includes those appointed as HSE reps. If the HSE officer doesn't fulfill his duties, you must treat this and manage it as poor performance.

Remember, if you don't train your HSE rep to fulfill his duties, you'll be held liable as an employer.

Harty advises you to not just elect HSE reps as a matter of compliance for your legal obligations.

'Provide them with the proper training and they're guaranteed to add value to your company,' she says.

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