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Workplace safety is a two-way conversation

The following is some information that should assist your work place and increase your ability to reduce or defend your organization against work place injury and legislative breaches.

In recognition of the benefits that open discussion regarding safety issues can deliver legislatively all employers must consult their employees on matters that may directly affect their health, safety or welfare.

This duty is not meant to be onerous or time-consuming. Employers are required to take a sensible, proactive approach and consult so far as is 'reasonably practicable'.

This simply means what is reasonable in the circumstances.

What is consultation?

Consultation is a two way conversation between employers and employees that involves:

  • Sharing information (information must be made available in a timely way and in a form that can be understood by employees)

  • Giving employees a reasonable opportunity to express their views (employees should be encouraged to play a part in the problem solving process); and

  • Taking those views into account (employees should help to shape decisions before they are made).

If there is more than one employer, they should work together to ensure they all meet their responsibilities.

As at the 1 January 2006, all employers were required to consult with employees about OHS matters that may directly affect them. Employers must consult by sharing information about OHS matters with employees, giving employees a reasonable opportunity to express their views and taking those views into account.

Employers must also consult independent contractors (and employees of contractors) they engage to perform work over which the employer has, or should have, control.

Employers are required to consult their employees, so far as reasonably practicable, on matters that may directly affect employees' health, safety or welfare.

The duty to consult is based on recognition that employee input and participation improves decision-making about health and safety matters.

Consultation between employers and employees is an essential part of effectively managing health and safety at work. Consultation should not be viewed just as a legal requirement, but as a valuable means of improving the employer's decision making about health and safety matters.

The duty applies to all employers, regardless of the size of their workplace and regardless of whether their employees have requested the establishment of designated work groups (DWGs) in order to elect health and safety representatives (HSRs) or whether HSRs have requested the establishment of a health and safety committee at the workplace.

The Act lists the circumstances when consultation is required. They are outlined in the more detailed guidance on consultation.

The Act provides flexibility on how consultation can occur. An HSR may be elected, a health and safety committee may be established, and/or other agreed arrangements may be established.

The Act allows the employer and their employees to choose the consultative arrangement which they believe will best ensure effective and meaningful consultation.

If employees are represented by an HSR, the consultation must involve the HSR. Consultation can be achieved through HSRs, as long as it meets the basic requirements for meaningful and effective consultation.

Meaningful and effective consultation involves drawing on the knowledge, experience and ideas of employees and encouraging their participation and input to improve OHS.

The Act sets out the elements of meaningful and effective consultation. It requires employers to:

  • share information with employees about the matter on which the employer is required to consult;

  • ive employees a reasonable opportunity to express views about the matter; and

  • take those views into account.

Do not hesitate is calling our WorkCover hotline for more information on 0404 014821

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