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WORKPLACE CONSULTATION – SAFETY FOR ALL!

Posted by Andrew Watters on

Workplace Consulation is about employers involving workers in decisions that can affect their health and safety. It is also good business practice as your workers can often foresee or report on things that you may have overlooked, and provide suggestions about how to solve health and safety problems and reduce injuries. Through workplace consultation, you can become more aware of the hazards and Work Health and Safety (WHS) issues experienced by your workers, and involve them in addressing potential problems before they escalate and affect your business.

Workplace Consultation includes:

  • Sharing relevant information about WHS and welfare with workers;
  • Providing opportunities for workers to express their views;
  • Allocating sufficient time for workplace consultation to resolve WHS issues; and
  • Demonstrating that workers’ views are valued and taken into account.

Workplace Consultation arrangements

Make sure your workplace consultation captures all WHS issues and views for example. How shiftwork and remote workers, trainees and apprentices, people with disabilities, and other issues such as language, literacy, gender and age will be included.

  • If you employ less than 20 workers your workers can elect an WHS representative or you can make other arrangements that are acceptable to your workers, such as discussing safety issues during your regular workplace meetings;
  • If you employ 20 workers or more you must elect an WHS committee if the majority of your workers request it. If the majority don’t request an WHS committee you can consider the option above.
  • If your workers do not elect a committee or WHS representative, you should nominate someone to be the WHS Representative.

Record Workplace Consultation arrangements

    • Make sure all your workers know about health and safety as well as workplace consultation so they can comment on matters that affect them;
    • Display your agreed workplace consultation arrangements in the workplace and notify remote workers; and
    • Include the names, roles and contact details of the elected WHS representatives and anyone else with specific WHS responsibilities.

Consulting effectively

Workplace consultation is about getting the views of your workers, it means valuing and acting upon your workers’ ideas not just handing out papers:

      • Provide an agenda of issues to be discussed before your regular workplace meetings. This will allow your workers time to consider suggestions, possible solutions and include other topics for discussion;
      • Hold regular workplace safety meetings, preferably at the start of a shift when your workers are fresh and alert;
      • Inform your workers about any plans you may have that could affect their health and safety such as purchasing new equipment;
      • Encourage your workers to give feedback about how safety issues may be addressed, before you make any decisions;
      • Provide the best solution in agreement with your workers when discussing safety issues. Ultimately though you are responsible for the safety of your workers and workplace;
      • Address any safety issue promptly and keep records of any significant safety decision, as this will demonstrate you take workplace consultation seriously. Record what actions need to be taken and who is responsible for taking them and when they need to be completed;
      • Make sure information and training is presented in a form easily accessible and understood by workers from a non-English speaking background and/or have special needs or disabilities, and may have specific language or literacy requirements.

When is Workplace Consultation required?

    • When changes are proposed to the work premises that may affect health and safety, such as changes to systems or methods of work, plant or substances used for work;
    • When risks to health and safety that arise from work are assessed, or when the assessment of those risks are reviewed;
    • When decisions are made about measures to be taken to eliminate or control those risks;
    • When new OHS policies or procedures are being developed or implemented; and
    • When introducing or altering the procedures or WMS for controlling those risks.

Why is Workplace Consultation required?

Workplace consultation is required to make sure workers are provided with ongoing access to information about:

      • The hazards associated with their work and the risks they may be exposed to;
      • The measures to eliminate or minimise that exposure;
      • The workplace arrangement for the management of WHS, including toolbox meetings, Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) and both off and on-the-job training; and
      • The procedures for reporting hazards and incidents to management.

Workplace Consultation documents we have developed to help:

Adapt the Workplace Consultation Policy and WHS Meeting Procedures to suit your business. Record your WHS Representatives/Committee Members in the Roles and Responsibilities Register, Key Roles and Responsibilities Register, Organisation Chart and any training required in the Training Plan. Workplace Consultation documents such as WHS Meeting Minutes or Toolbox/Pre-Start Talks may be used to help you conduct and keep records of your meetings.


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