Work health and safety (WHS) entry permit holders (EPH) are union officials who have completed an approved training course and hold, or will hold, an entry permit under the Fair Work Act 2009. Union officials must follow strict procedures with penalties in place for any misuse of their entry rights.
An EPH does not have an unconditional right of entry to a workplace. They may enter a workplace in certain circumstances to:
- inquire into suspected WHS contraventions that affect or relate to relevant workers
- inspect employee records or information held by another person, or
- consult and advise relevant workers who wish to participate in the discussions about WHS matters.
In the context of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), a right of entry should not be construed as conferring any greater right than is necessary to achieve the objective of the entry. Accordingly, the rights of the PCBU are only to be diminished to the extent absolutely necessary to meet the objective of the right of entry into that workplace.
In general terms, the right of entry permit enables union officials to enter workplaces in a way that balances:
- the interests of unions to:
- consult with and advise their members on work health and safety matters and
- inquire into suspected contraventions of Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) that affect their members
- the right of 'persons conducting a business or undertaking' (PCBU) and other persons at workplaces to conduct their affairs without undue inconvenience.