Representing health and safety at school

How elected health and safety representatives can help schools to achieve better outcomes for everyone.

Tuesday, 28 November 2023 at 10:00 pm
Representing health and safety at school

While elected health and safety representatives (HSR) in schools are not mandatory, they can make a vital contribution to school safety.

HSRs serve as a valuable link in occupational health and safety (OHS) communications between teachers and school leadership, supporting principals with their OHS responsibilities by identifying and responding to hazards raised by staff.

HSRs strengthen staff representation and make a real difference in achieving better health and safety outcomes: just look at the example of University High School teacher Cameron McCormick.

Cameron is an educator with a passion for school safety and wellbeing. With a background in theatre production, Cameron’s journey into OHS was initially inspired by a desire to actively engage in the maintenance and safety of his school's theatre facilities. 

‘I wanted to be more actively involved in the maintenance side of things and use my unique knowledge in that area to ensure that things were happening the way they would in the broader theatre industry,’ Cameron said.

Cameron is now a self-confessed ‘OHS nerd’ who finds all health and safety-related matters fascinating, so it’s no surprise he was recently recognised as the Australian Education Union’s 2022 HSR of the year.

HSRs in action

Cameron’s dedication to education seamlessly intertwines with his unwavering commitment to health and safety. As his school’s HSR, Cameron provides integral advice to support school leadership in building a strong school safety culture. 

‘Within the school context, HSRs are often in the best position to be able to drive change and improvements for staff health and safety,’ Cameron said.

He assists his school leadership by diving into technical OHS details to best represent the safety interests of the staff.

‘My knowledge and experience in OHS can become a resource for schools to draw on, and, over time, embed within everyday practice.’

Cameron’s plea: OHS is everyone’s responsibility – get involved

Now thriving as a health and safety representative at his school, Cameron also encourages other teachers to get involved. His safety message to school staff is: ‘if something doesn't feel right or look right, speak up’. 

‘Noticing and reporting that something isn’t right could be the difference between someone going home healthy at the end of the day or not,’ he said.

Cameron helps shape school health, safety, and wellbeing policy development, participating in the department's 'Keeping Our People Safe' working group. 

Cameron is passionate about the importance of proactive safety measures in schools and encourages all teachers to consider becoming an HSR. To take the first steps towards being a representative in your school, check out the information provided below.

Find out more 

For more information, refer to:

For any other Victorian Government school OHS enquiries, contact the OHS Advisory Service