WHS Consultation: How to choose?
What is Consultation?
Consultation is a two-way process between persons conducting businesses or undertakings (PCBUs) and workers where you:
- Talk to each other about health and safety matters
- Listen to concerns and raise concerns
- Seek and Share views and information, and
- Consider what workers say before decisions are made
Consultation is one of the corner-stones of health and safety in Australia.
PCBU’s have a duty under the law to consult with their workers and others in relation to health and safety matters.
This is because of the recognised benefit that comes from workers input into decision making about health and safety.
The input of workers is valuable as they are the people who are most familiar with the operations of the company, they daily see the hazards or indicators of emerging hazards that could result in disease and injury. They are also frequently best placed to suggest solutions that will work.
By creating a culture of co-operation and consultation Management can draw on this valuable source of information to ensure that the decisions they make about safety are effective.
How to Consult
Consultation can be accomplished in a number of ways:
- It can be as simple as regularly talking to workers about health and safety and taking their views into consideration when making health and safety decisions. As a formalized arrangement this would come under the category of “Other Agreed Arrangements” – and is an acceptable method, so long as the arrangements are consistent with the legislation
- It can be done through elected Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs). Legislation requires a PCBU to consult using HSRs if a worker requests representation by a HSR
- It can be done through formalized Health and Safety Committees. A committee is required to be established if 5 or more workers or a HSR request that a committee be established
- Or your consultation arrangements could be a combination of some or all of these mechanisms