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Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322

Consulting about safety

What is consultation

Consultation means both providing your workers with information and taking into account their views before making decisions affecting work health and safety.

It allows you to really get to know your workplace, workers and the hazards they face.

Consultation is actually a legal requirement and an essential part of managing work health and safety risks.

Legal responsibilities

Many decisions or actions in a workplace have health and safety consequences for workers. For example, introducing new equipment into the workplace may affect the tasks your workers do, the timeframes for doing work, how they work with each other, and the environment in which they work.

The work health and safety laws identify specific circumstances when a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must consult with workers; these are when you are:

  • identifying hazards and assessing risks to health and safety arising from the work carried out or to be carried out
  • making decisions about ways to remove or reduce those risks
  • making decisions about the facilities (toilets, hand washing and so on)
  • proposing changes to your work environment, processes, practices, or purchasing decisions (for example, of chemicals or equipment) that affect workers’ health and safety
  • making decisions about procedures for: consulting with workers, resolving health or safety issues, monitoring workers’ health, monitoring workplace conditions, and providing information and training.

Who to consult with

You must consult on health and safety matters with workers and health and safety representatives.

You must consult with anyone else you engage to carry out work for you: this includes your contractors and sub-contractors and their workers, labour hire workers, volunteers and anyone else working for you and who is directly affected by any health and safety matter.

You should also consult with union representatives.

Benefits of consulting

It’s easier to achieve a safer workplace when everyone talks and work together to address potential problems and collectively find solutions.

Hearing and understanding the views of others leads to greater co-operation and trust.

Involving your workers

Don’t underestimate your workers’ input: they often have first-hand knowledge, experience and ideas about how to reduce safety risks, make improvements and find solutions.

Involve your workers as you:

  • develop your work health and safety policy and procedures
  • use safety checklists
  • develop safe work procedures
  • create hazard, incident, near miss and injury reporting procedures
  • identify hazards, tasks and conditions, and the safe way to manage them
  • review policies and procedures.

Consider your workers’ needs

Do your workers need safety information in a language other than English? In simple terms for workers with low literacy or education levels?

Consider getting safety information translated into other languages or even interpreted in pictures. You should also explain it directly to your workers.

Contractors and suppliers

You must also consult with your customers, suppliers, contractors and others who interact with your business.

They may need to know:

  • your emergency procedures
  • safe work procedures
  • safety data sheets for chemicals they’ll use in your workplace.

They probably need to provide you with safety information too, especially suppliers of chemicals or equipment, or contractors who are working for you.

Information to share

The safety information to share with your workers includes:

  • safety policies
  • safe work procedures
  • information about hazards
  • names of health and safety representatives safety committee members; first aid and other wardens
  • dispute resolution procedures
  • updates about how reported/raised safety matters are being addressed.

How to share it

Cover all bases and work out what’s right for your workers. Don’t forget about outdoor or on-the-road workers who may not have email/computer/office access.

  • Send all-staff emails.
  • Display information on noticeboards.
  • Hand out printed flyers or notices.
  • Ask HSRs to share information in their workgroups.
  • Add safety to the agendas for staff meetings, toolbox meetings, and at inductions.
  • Encourage your workers to hold elections for health and safety representatives.
  • Establish a health and safety committee.
  • Hold regular staff/toolbox meetings and make health and safety a topic to discuss. If you engage contractors, include them in this process and seek their feedback too.
  • Hold practical training sessions.
  • Check if your workers are receiving enough information to do their job safely, or whether they need additional resources.

Other ways to consult and communicate

  • Encourage your workers to hold elections for health and safety representatives.
  • Establish a health and safety committee.
  • Hold regular staff/toolbox meetings and make health and safety a topic to discuss. If you engage contractors, include them in this process and seek their feedback too.
  • Hold practical training sessions.
  • Check if your workers are receiving enough information to do their job safely, or whether they need additional resources.

Resources and solutions

Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination code of practice

Health and safety committees

Health and safety representatives (HSRs)

WHS Entry permit holders

Updated: 11th December 2019