Consultation, representation and participation
The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) requires duty holders to consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with others who have a duty in relation to the same matter; and to consult with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking.
This is achieved through the effective and coordinated efforts of persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), work health and safety officers (WHSOs), health and safety representatives (HSRs) and health and safety committees (HSCs).
Legislative amendments in relation to WHSOs, HSRs and HSCs took effect from 1 July 2018. These include:
- the requirement for PCBUs to provide Workplace Health and Safety Queensland with a list of HSRs and deputy HSRs for each work group
- mandatory training for HSRs within three months of a HSR being elected to the role and refreshed at three yearly intervals.
- the requirement for PCBUs to forward to the regulator a copy of all PINs issued by HSRs
- the ability for a PCBU to appoint a WHSO
- the requirement for a PCBU to display a current list of WHSOs for the workplace
- enabling the appointment of a WHSO to be permissible as evidence that a PCBU has taken action to mitigate health and safety risks.
Consultation is a collaborative process between the PCBU and workers. It involves sharing information about health and safety.
PCBUs must give workers who are, or are likely to be, directly affected by a matter relating to health and safety, a reasonable opportunity to express their views or raise issues.
If a Health and safety representative (HSR) is appointed to represent workers, the consultation must involve them.
Health and safety representatives
All HSRs must undertake the relevant approved training course within three months of their election. If a worker refuses to undertake the training within the time period, they will no longer be eligible to fulfil the role of HSR and will need to be replaced.
A PCBU must ensure that a list of health and safety representatives and deputy health and safety representatives (if any) for the business or undertaking is prepared and kept up-to-date. A copy of the up-to-date list must be displayed in a way that is readily accessible to workers in the relevant work group or work groups:
- at the principal place of business of the business or undertaking
- at any other workplace that is appropriate taking into account the constitution of the relevant work group or work groups.
A copy of this list must also be emailed to the Regulator.
Read more about HSRs.
Health and safety committees
A health and safety committee facilitates cooperation between a PCBU and workers in developing and carrying out measures to ensure health and safety at work. This includes health and safety standards, rules and procedures for the workplace.
An HSC must meet at least once every three months and at any reasonable time at the request of at least half of the members of the committee.
Read more about HSCs.
Work health and safety officers
On 23 October 2017, the Queensland Parliament passed the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (the amendment Act) as a result of the Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ).
Read more about WHSOs.
Code of practice and national guide
- Work health and safety consultation, co-operation and co-ordination Code of Practice 2011(PDF, 486.2 KB)
- Worker Representation and Participation Guide (Safe Work Australia)
- Last updated
- 28 February 2019
Codes of Practice are now an enforceable standard to manage hazards and risks
A Work Health and Safety inspector may refer to an approved code of practice when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice.
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