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What is a SHE Representative?

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A SHE Representative, also known as a SHE Rep, is an individual appointed within the workplace to represent their fellow employees in ensuring all risks and hazards are identified and managed as reasonably practicable. The SHE Rep consults with and makes representations to the employer in the Health and Safety Committee on matters affecting safety, health, and welfare. This role is crucial for maintaining a safe work environment, protecting not just employees but any other person affected by workplace activities. Sections 17 and 18 of the Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Act detail the appointments and functions of SHE Reps.


Who is eligible to be a SHE Rep and how many are needed?

Per Section 17(4) of the OHS Act, candidates for the SHE Rep role must be full-time employees familiar with the conditions and activities, including the risks and hazards of their specific work areas. The appointment must be documented, and the duration agreed upon by both employer and Health & Safety Representative. Employers cannot arbitrarily appoint any employee or new hire to this role; it requires a nomination process.

In workplaces with over 20 employees, one SHE Rep is needed for every group of 50 employees in general industry and 1:100 for shops and offices. According to the Mine Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996, every mine with more than 20 employees must appoint a Health & Safety Representative for each shift at each designated working place.

How does the appointment process work?

The General Administrative Regulations Section 6 of the OHS Act stipulates that employers must engage with registered trade unions when appointing a Health and Safety Representative. In the absence of a registered trade union, employers must consult with employees to agree on the following:

  • The nomination or election process for the SHE Rep.
  • The terms of office and the removal process for underperformance.
  • The procedure for filling vacancies.
  • The duties of the Health and Safety Representative as outlined in the OHS Act.
  • The facilities, training, and support necessary for the SHE Rep to fulfil their duties under Section 18 of the OHS Act.

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Why must a Health & Safety Representative be appointed by a nomination process?

The SHE Rep position does not come with additional remuneration and should be filled by someone with a genuine interest in health and safety, respected by peers. Nomination ensures the chosen individual is someone employees look up to and can easily follow instructions from, regarding health and safety. Importantly, nominees must accept the role, ensuring they are willing and capable of performing the required duties.

What are the duties of a SHE Representative?

A SHE Rep, or Safety, Health, and Environmental Representative, plays a crucial role in ensuring workplace safety and compliance with health and safety regulations. Here are the primary duties of a SHE Rep:

Reviewing safety measures:

  • SHE Reps regularly assess the effectiveness of health and safety measures in their designated workspaces. This includes identifying any shortcomings and suggesting improvements.

Identifying hazards:

  • One of the core responsibilities is to identify potential hazards within the workplace. This proactive approach helps in preventing accidents and ensuring a safe working environment.

Examining incident causes:

  • SHE Reps investigate the causes of workplace incidents. By understanding what went wrong, they can recommend measures to prevent future occurrences.

Investigating complaints:

  • Employees may raise concerns regarding health and safety. The SHE Rep investigates these complaints to ensure they are addressed promptly and effectively.

Making representations:

  • SHE Reps make representations to the employer about health and safety issues. If the employer does not address these issues, the SHE Rep can escalate them to an inspector.

Accompanying inspectors:

  • During official inspections, SHE Reps accompany inspectors and participate in consultations. This ensures that the inspections are thorough and all safety concerns are addressed.

Receiving information:

  • SHE Reps receive information from inspectors as outlined in Section 36 of the OHS Act. This information is vital for maintaining and improving safety standards.

Participating in safety committee meetings:

  • As members of the health and safety committee, SHE Reps attend regular meetings to discuss and address ongoing safety issues within the workplace.

Rights of a SHE Rep:

Site visits:

  • SHE Reps have the right to visit the site of an incident at reasonable times and attend inspections.

Document inspection:

  • They can inspect documents maintained by the employer in accordance with the OHS Act to perform their duties.

Technical assistance:

  • With employer approval, SHE Reps can be accompanied by a technical adviser during inspections.

Internal audits:

  • They participate in any internal health and safety audits.

Training requirements:

  • All activities related to the designation, duties, and training of SHE Reps must be completed during normal working hours. 

Additional training:

When should a Health & Safety Representative carry out their functions and what training is required?

All tasks related to the designation, duties, and training of SHE Reps must occur during normal working hours. Employers cannot expect representatives to perform these duties after hours or use their leave for training purposes.

The Health and Safety Representative course provides essential knowledge for SHE Reps to perform their roles. Additional training and courses addressing specific workplace risks (e.g Stacking & Storage, HAZMAT) can significantly enhance their effectiveness.

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Can a Health & Safety Representative incur civil liability?

Under Section 18(4) of the OHS Act, SHE Reps are shielded from civil liability for failing to perform any required duty under the Act. This protection ensures they cannot be sued for negligence in fulfilling their functions as outlined by the OHS Act. However, this immunity applies only to their official duties; any misconduct outside this scope could still result in civil or criminal liability.


The role of a Health and Safety Representative, or SHE Rep, is fundamental in promoting and maintaining a safe work environment. By ensuring all risks and hazards are identified and managed, SHE Reps play a critical part in workplace safety, safeguarding employees and anyone else affected by workplace activities. The appointment process, as detailed in the OHS Act, emphasises the importance of selecting suitable candidates through a nomination process to ensure they have the necessary commitment and respect from their peers.

SHE Reps have a range of duties and responsibilities, from reviewing safety measures to participating in inspections and investigations. They must perform these functions during regular working hours and are protected from civil liability while carrying out their duties under the OHS Act. However, they must act responsibly within the scope of their role to avoid any personal legal repercussions.

By understanding the significance of the SHE Rep role, employers can ensure they have effective health and safety representatives who are well-equipped through appropriate training to maintain a safe working environment. Comprehensive training courses, including basic SHE Rep courses and specialised training like Incident Investigation and HIRA, are crucial in equipping SHE Reps to handle their responsibilities effectively.

For more information on SHE Rep courses, SHE Rep training, and other related queries such as the SHE Rep course price, contact us today. By investing in proper training and a robust appointment process, organisations can foster a culture of safety and compliance, benefiting all employees.

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