How effective workplace consultation, representation and participation can improve your health and safety outcomes.
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 1.89GB)
RUN TIME: 59 mins 30 secs
Hi everyone. I'm John Leigh and I'll be your MC for today. Welcome to our fourth Work Well 365 Speaker Series session for 2022. I'd like to begin by respectfully acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land we are speaking from to you today and on which you are learning and working from today. We also pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people watching. Today, you'll learn from four industry guest speakers, three of which who are in the studio with me. I'd like to introduce Jacqueline King, Assistant General Secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions, Peter Gould, Manager, Workplace Health and Safety, local government worker, and Jodie Deakes, Executive Director, Office of Industrial Relations, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. Welcome, Jacqueline, Peter, and Jodie. Thanks job. We will also be crossing live to Mackay in Central Queensland where we'll hear from Jeff White, General Manager at Forge Engineering. Welcome, Jeff.
Yeah, afternoon everybody. Thank you.
Hey. Our guest speakers will provide their views on WHS consultation in industry today, and we will also check in with the audience and answer any questions that you might have about this topic. Please feel free to place your questions in the chat, and we will answer them towards the end of the session. Now, let's touch base with you, Jacqueline. It's an absolute pleasure having you here today.
Thank you. You're welcome. Thanks for coming along. Can you explain a little about your role in the Queensland Council of Unions and that of the HSR support service?
Yeah, sure. So, uh, my role is the Assistant General Secretary of the QCU, uh, we're the peak Council of Unions in Queensland, representing about 360,000 workers across the state and 25 affiliate unions. Uh, my role is specifically to look at, uh, work health and safety. So, I've been involved in, uh, the development of the Psychosocial Hazards Code of Practice. Uh, we've been campaigning around getting legislative reform for sexual harassment to prevent sexual harassment in workplaces. So, I spent a lot of my time on legislative reviews and campaigns, um, uh, in the more recently on the Health and Safety Act review, which is currently ongoing. Um, the Health and Safety Support Service is a funded program by the Office of Industrial Relations, which is hosted through the QCU. Uh, it essentially provides, um, information, support, advice, uh, and training and education to health and safety reps, uh, across the state.
So, uh, it's available to any health and safety rep. Um, as I say, like where you can contact us via telephone. Um, our coordinator, uh, Kylie Musket, uh, often attends, um, training providers for health and safety reps when they're first undertaking their five days initial training. So, we hook up with people through there. Uh, we're referred, uh, HSRs through the Office of Industrial Relations Portal. Uh, we have a private discussion group, so any information that you get from us is in a private capacity if you just want some independent advice and we're there to support people. And obviously ongoing training is a big issue for all health and safety reps. So, you do your first five days training, but we try to engage with people, whether that's through newsletters, um, having, you know, fact sheets on some common issues, uh, whether that's hazards or, you know, processes and procedures in the workplace. Um, but also, you know, when there are big things like when Covid was happening, um, we've run, uh, Zoom information sessions, uh, for health and safety reps across the state along with mental health and, and obviously we'll be doing a lot of things for psychosocial hazards.
Wow, that's impressive. Thanks, Jacqueline. That's a lot of work, a lot of resources. With your extensive knowledge and your experience in workplace health and safety, what does effective consultation look like to you and what is one common challenge you can see to achieve in effective consultation?
Yeah, sure. That's a great question. Uh, so I think for me, effective consultation is about being able to see health and safety reps and workers actually involved in the decision making processes about work health and safety. So, work health and safety is obviously something that impacts on workers, but within their own particular work group area, um, workers are in their representatives are often the, the best people to provide advice about how to do things effectively and how to do them safely. Um, so involvement in decision making processes, um, I think one of the challenges, uh, is that often managers and supervisors, um, uh, at the supervisory level don't understand what consultation means. They don't understand what it means in the, in the sense of work health and safety. So, there are clear kind of obligations for managers and supervisors to consult with, um, workers and, and health and safety reps.
So, wherever there is a health and safety rep, there's a requirement to consult with them. Um, but about things like, so I think they understand they need to consult with them in terms of identifying hazards and assessing risks, uh, in terms of eliminating or minimising risks and general health and safety issues. But I don't think there's a very good understanding across industry, um, that there's also requirements to, um, consult with workers and their representatives about, um, the consultation procedures you have in place within your workplace around health and safety, about issue resolution procedures or even things like monitoring, um, you know, health or other conditions at the workplace. So, for me, I think that they're some of the things that, uh, are really interesting that I think that can be supported through the regulator around some information which is specific to, um, supervisors and managers.
Um, we train health and safety reps. We give them a five day, um, course, which, you know, to a large extent takes them through the legislative, um, provision so they understand what's required under the Act. But we don't do the same for supervisors and managers. Um, and I think that's a really important point, um, that we need to kind of address. Um, often times, you know, when I've sat on boards and, you know, working out in industry and you talk to managers around these issues or health and safety professionals, you know, they're degree trained, they're very well, um, very well trained and very well educated in terms of, um, I guess how to manage hazards. But they don't actually understand the legislation, so they don't understand their obligations. And I think we could do more in that space.
Thank you, Jacqueline, that's, you raise some really interesting topics on there. Just, uh, looking through the panel next we'll, if it's okay, we'll cross over to Peter. Uh, Peter, you head up the local government work, uh, WHS support unit, which supports, uh, 65 self-insured local governments across Queensland. Within your role, what does effective consultation look like in local government and what is again, one common challenge that you come across in your role?
Thanks, John. Uh, I think the big part of, uh, local government is very community based. So, uh, if you take into account everybody from the community, uh, is bringing themselves to the actual workplace, the reality is there we want that community feel, lots of consultation with each other and, uh, and obviously having those clear communication lines up and down. Um, probably a good story would be a situation I had a few years ago when, uh, the glyphosate matter was certainly across, uh, mainstream media. And, uh, we had the groundsmen in the US who, uh, had had a very serious illness from glyphosate and it was very, very topical. And, uh, I remember that day well where, uh, we actually saw consultation and communication at its best. We had, uh, the health and safety reps, uh, gather up all the information that they had that was concerning from the workers.
Uh, they brought that through to the health and safety unit and had a conversation with our advisors, uh, really unpacked what the concerns were and, uh, what was pleasing was the health and safety reps go, "Thank you. We've got the information we need. We want to go back and discuss the matter with the workers." Uh, that led on to um, them having a really good, robust conversation about what they wanted to do, because weeds keep growing. So, the reality was that we had to find some solutions and, uh, lots of Googling went on and the guys were very heavily involved in alternatives. And what I was proud of was they actually had a situation where they found a lot of the alternative chemicals were probably worse than what the glyphosate was. Uh, they had a practice where they flame thrower, see if they could cook weeds.
Uh, and reality was that they all came back and went, "Yeah, I reckon we can get this right." And, uh, I think with good information they were able to make their own decisions. They then brought that back to the Workplace Health and Safety Committee and that was the connection we had then with our management representatives. And, uh, I think the pleasing was if it sort of sorted itself out, but they felt very empowered about how they'd done that and really made sure that, uh, they had an answer that they were all comfortable with. And the key thing was making sure information flowed. Uh, and I think that could have ended up as a big mess and I think it actually worked itself out really well. Um, but the challenges for me, I think, uh, and certainly back to some of Jacqueline's points was around that role clarity.
Uh, I think health and safety reps are our heroes. Uh, they really need to be well supported and they certainly need to understand, you know, what their roles are. Uh, because I think they can get drawn into very quickly having that situation where they become sort of quaso health and safety officers or advisors. And that's not their role. Their role is there to, um, be, you know, provide clarification and information. So, I think if we can educate supervisors and managers, uh, that that is the role, they're not there to go and do their hazard inspections and stuff like that, uh, I think we can really get the whole system to work well. So, I think role clarity's the challenge we've got, uh, and I think we can go a long way to filling that gap and it'll will be very better.
Thank you. It's really good to hear those examples of effective consultation happening out in the, in the real world, and it's not just a, a theoretical construct. So, thanks for bringing that to us and also those, uh, the common, uh, concerns as well that you have. And, uh, just tying in nicely with Jacqueline, um, we'll, now cross to Jeff at Forge Engineering and Mackay. Afternoon, Jeff, it must be tough living up there in beautiful Central Queensland.
Yeah, tough this time year. Um, not too hot, but, um, yeah, it's getting hot. We could do some rain, so down south if you can send some rain up, that'll be good.
Yeah, we might have some on the way. Maybe for you. Can you probably, Jeff, can you just give us a quick, uh, eye view as a quick rundown on Forge Engineering and, uh, who you are, what you do?
Yeah, sure. So, Forage Engineering, we're at a small to medium size business based here in Paget, in Mackay. Um, so predominantly what we do is a lot of, um, machining, uh, fabrication, robotic welding, manufacturing repairs. So, a lot of that work supports the, um, mining industry, so mobile lighting, top equipment, underground equipment, ports, marine and the like, uh, and agriculture of course. Um, so we've got a, uh, a workforce of about 33 people strong, um, today, uh, predominantly most of those people are machinists, uh, with some boiler makers and other support personnel in there.
And from your view of as a small to medium size manufacturing business, what does effective WHS consultation look like at Forge Engineering? And what role does you see in management play in making it all happen?
Yeah, so look effective, um, our health safety representation, you know, for us, um, we need to really, you know, take the approach that, um, at the end of the day, we, we need to get the right results so it can't just be all about talk. Um, and we really need to build on a foundation of respect. Um, and that's a two way street respect. Um, not just leadership, but workers as well. Um, and a non-negotiable foundation of, you know, trust. So that's what we need to build on in our business. Um, and, and that's what really we set the foundation on. Um, so we don't have a, um, dedicated health and safety representative at Forge. Uh, and we don't have a committee. Now, that's not to say we're not meeting our obligation because, um, we, um, we enter in a lot of consultation with our workforce in what we believe to be a really effective, um, and efficient manner.
Um, because at the end of the day when things go, you know, not to plan, um, it's all about what actions do you put in place. And it's not just that talk fest and writing on a notebook and smiling and nodding and say, Yes, I'll fix that next week. Uh, and never happens. And you lose the trust and respect of your workers. But, you know, quite the opposite. We engage early and often, um, so effectively through pre starts, um, every day. And that's not just talking about what's coming up, uh, for the day or the week ahead, but it's really talking about what's changed in the workplace, what do you need to be aware of, um, and, and what are the key, you know, things that we can use or the tools to switch people on in their day. So, encouraging people to have a safety share, um, that's really engaging them, sharing insights and, you know, it's much better listening to the same leader every day, um, somewhat different, and you really get engaged.
So that's how we bring back the, the personal side. Um, but you know, really we, we have to work hard of, you know, building that safe environment. So, every workplace would have the challenge of how do you create a, when I say safe workplaces where people feel safe and comfortable, or they can share the, the things that didn't go to plan the incidents. Um, I had a near miss where I've seen in my working career, um, in engineering that I've involved with all my life all too often that, you know, people are scared to share some of the stuff that doesn't go to plan. So, for us, you know, we really take the approach of, um, we share and it's a no blame policy to start with because really about finding the root cause of, you know, what truly went wrong. And one of the things I say to my leaders, and I think they're learning quite well as days go by, um, but when they get to a "Well, the operator did something wrong" well that's just a symptom of the issue.
So really it's, "Hey, go back. What's the real root cause?" because people don't turn up to our workplace to do the wrong thing or don't plan to, um, have something that, you know, went bad. So, what we do is we create that safe environment, and we share, um, and we share openly. And that consultation is about amongst the workplace, all the workers have a chance to say, "Well, look, this is my belief, this is what I think needs to happen." Uh, and we collectively share and consult with this is what we need to do. And we get, we seek that agreement. So rather than saying, "Hey, we've got a health safety committee that meets every month," um, you know, we really talk about, you know, what happened on the previous shift, uh, and talk about what do we need to do different, um, and what's the priority, who's owning it, when are they going to get it done by?
Um, so that, that's really our approach. So, what underpins that? How do we make sure we don't, you know, miss those actions? Well, we've got a continuous improvement process in place. Uh, it's simple for visible management tools. So, uh, we record those actions, um, put 'em on the, the board so people can see that, hey, the action that we've all agreed to is still there. It's visible. We know who's owning it when it needs to be done by, Uh, and one of the things we, we do well is when that action is completed, we call that person out the prestart, you know, when it was completed, um, it's finished, uh, well done, physically handed back in front of the peers, you know, that helps build that respect. You know, it's that cycle of understanding, um, the belief and you keep building that belief in your team, but hey, what we talk about happens, uh, and that's the most important thing.
So, I guess summing that up, you could say we, we've essentially got a, a lean manufacturing approach to health and safety representation. When I say lean manufacturing, that that's all about, you know, looking at the effort you put in compared to the value you get out. So, you're always, you know, looking at, well, I don't want things to go bad, I'm looking for constraints in my business. Um, and it's really about just changing those mindsets every step of the way and building culture. So, um, most important that, you know, leadership, it's on point. Um, and in our business, um, with leaders, this is where it really, you know, rubber hits the road. And the leaders are the first point where if you're going change culture, that's where it will start because it's, you know, any amount of training, you know, committees or whatever, Um, if you don't have the leadership as that first point of, um, driving, supporting and coaching, it is not going end up with the right culture at the end of the day.
So, uh, we work hard on, on that every day. And, um, yeah, look for our business, you know, the, the right values and behaviours, you know, really underpins, you know, our decisions. You know, where, where do we get to every day, You know, we all get hard decisions at times we've got to make, um, but you know, the values and behaviour is what we can fall back on, um, to ensure that, you know, we're being consistent in our approach. Um, so with our leadership team, you know, everybody basically without fail, um, they're at a prestart every morning. Yes, some management managers have to, uh, get out of bed a bit earlier these days, but 6:30 in the morning, all leadership is here, 6:30 with the team, um, sharing in what happened previous shift, what are we doing today, next week, next month. Um, so look that, that's certainly, you know, giving the, the quick rundown on Forge Engineering, um, our basic approach and how we do it. So, it is really about, you know, we look for the actions and it's really about things have to result in a positive change. So, you know, incidents that have occurred, um, we've certainly minimised or eliminated that from happening in the future.
That's a great response. Thank you, Jeff. Thank you. I picked up on a lot of things in there, but I think the underlying one there is that respect and trust, which all, uh, feeds into the culture at Forge Engineering. So, congratulations to you on what you've achieved so far and what you continued to achieve as well. Thank you. Thanks John. Um, back to the studio now, back from Mackay down into, uh, Brisbane. I'm going pass over to Jodie now and ask a few questions and if you can respond to us maybe on behalf of the regulator, no problem. Fine, thank you. Um, Jodie, Health and Safety Reps or HSRs have a very important role in workplaces. I think we've already established that under, we're firmly down that pathway, but as they act and they act as a conduit between the workers and the management for raising WHS matters in the workplace, from a regulator's perspective, how do HSRs fit into effective workplace health and safety consultation?
Look, HSRs are just such a fundamental part of our consultation framework in Queensland. Um, uh, HSRs are there basically to gather information from the work group that they represent and communicate that as part of the health and safety process with the employer or the PCBU, as we call it, as well. A HSR comes about because a worker in a workplace says, "We, we want to have a health and safety representative, or I want to be a health and safety representative." And part of that process and from the legislation is that that person needs to be able to do that job well. And so, they need to be trained and there's a prescribed period of time that they have to do that within, and then within three years, they have to do a refresher at well as well. And that makes them, that enables them to do that job well.
They're fundamental in terms of being a, being able to access the work group they represent. So, a work group generally represents the, the, the work of the business or the area of the business, um, that that person is from. Um, a business can have multiple HSRs, they might be in different locations, or they might just be in one location and decide to have one. It's so important with that HSR to integrate them into the health and safety process. And, and Jacqueline and others have talked about how they can support, you know, risk assessment processes. And, uh, Peter's also spoken about how they're, um, used in, in terms of the process of understanding what risks are occurring at the heart of any great health and safety management system is great leadership and good consultation, and good consultation means that you are talking to the people who know the work, the people who do the work, the people who can understand the risk, because they're dealing with it every day.
And if you don't do that, you're actually limiting the ability of your health and safety management system. And so, health and safety representatives at the centre of that, they also have power and, and that's deliberate in the legislation. So, they've got power to cease work if something is just not working well and they've consulted with the business and nothing's being done and it's not resolved, you know, they can cease that activity. They can also issue a thing called a provisional improvement notice, which is a PIN. And they can also, um, before or after issuing a PIN, um, work through the issues resolution process that is in place to support the business. Now that can be based on what's in the legislation. So, there's, um, procedures in the legislation that can be picked up and used, or they could have developed one in consultation with the employer as well around, or the employer could have done it with the, with that consultation mechanism so that when things do go wrong, there's a process of what to follow and how to resolve that.
So, the HSR has power and that is deliberate because in some circumstances, um, there needs to be somebody in that workplace who can say enough's enough when things aren't being done correctly. And if things don't seem to be going right with that, or the, um, there's also the opportunity to bring an inspector in when needed to talk to them as well and talk through it with the employer to make sure that they're following that they're looking at the PIN as well, and they're making sure that they're resolving the health and safety issue that gave, uh, gave light to that. So, a health and safety representative, is one of the workplace's best friends in terms of being able to highlight what's going on at the ground with the workers and help resolve and work through that.
Thanks Jodie. Thanks for that explanation around the role of HSR, but you've got me now thinking about the, um, health and safety committees and what's the difference between the role of HSR and the role of a committee? How can they work together and how can they reach positive health and safety outcomes?
For the workplace? Oh, look, great question John. Sometimes it can be a little bit confusing, um, but a committee is, is different to, um, a HSR but generally serves the same purpose at the end of the day around effective consultation in a business. So, a committee, there's requirements in the legislations about how they're set up, around how they're scheduled to meet around the number of workers that need to be on that committee. But that's a real collaborative collective approach. And again, it's about, um, bringing together the knowledge across the organisation in a committee type style that enables to identify what hazards, what risks are in that workplace, and what are some of the resolutions that would need to be passed and the actions that need to be undertaken. Now HSR can be on a committee as well, so they can form part of that and there's absolute benefit in that as well because they can bring the collective from a whole work group.
So, they've both got the role in terms of being able to identify and support improved health and safety outcomes in that workplace. But how they come together and the requirements around them are a little bit different. Um, you can have a committee without a HSR, you can have a HSR without a committee and you can have neither of those two things as long as you're able to demonstrate that you're meeting your requirements in terms of consulting in the workplace. And, and as Jacqueline said, that, you know, traditionally, um, those sort of mechanisms are used in terms of risk assessment processes. But if you are changing, you know, the structures in your organisation, if you are doing anything that might impact on the health and safety of a worker in terms of, you know, the change of how the work is done, um, you need to consult with your workers. Having those type of mechanisms like a committee or a HSR in place will help you do that. Absolutely. Um, but at the end of the day, it's about making sure you consult in line with that legislation. And as I said, at the centre of a great health and safety system, at the centre of your culture should be your workers because they know the risks and they're the ones who are going to deliver for you if they feel safe and they look, feel looked after as well.
Thanks again. I'm going ask you again, Jodie, another one was to hear as a representative of WHSQ Workplace Health and Safety, what is the organisation doing to support businesses to consult effectively and improve their health and safety outcomes?
Uh, look, you know, it, it's on us as a regulator, not just to write the rules and the legislation to, but to also, um, ensure we are showing what compliance looks like in relation to that and making sure that when things go wrong, we are there to enforce compliance as well. Um, we, there, we're there to, at the moment, you know, we hear things from workers who say, um, "I want to be a HSR, um, but you know, I reached out to my employer but then not allowing me to do that." Um, in those situations we can send an inspector out and they can talk to that employer about what the requirements are and how they would go about it. Um, in some cases the inspector might have to issue notices because they're not complying with the legislation and are not willing to, um, to even look at that obligation.
But what we do also is we make sure that we've got services in place to help people, not just in terms of improve their compliance behaviours, but in terms of their own capability. So, uh, um, as Jacqueline spoke about with the, uh, QCU support service, we support that service. Um, it's really important that people feel that they can go to a safe environment. If they don't want to come to the regulator, there's somebody else they can go to for advice. Um, and, and that's what that service is there for, and we continue to support that in Queensland. We also have things like the HSR Direct, which is a phone number you can ring as a HSR, you're about to issue a PIN, you're not sure whether you should cease work, or you've just got a question about health and safety that can help you in your role.
We have that in place. Um, we recently identified that we have so much information on, on our website about consultation, but it's generally like in all different places. So now we are bringing it into a single source of truth one page. So, one click from the front page, and you are there. And that means you can access films, you can access information and templates and requirements, and that will help you either as an employer or a worker, understand and know what you can do. Um, we also have, uh, an advisory, uh, group of people who work across the entire state who work in our IPAM program and our advisory space. And those guys go out and work with the business and make sure that they understand where they are at in their health and safety management. Part of that process is bringing the HSR, the committee member, whoever it is in the workplace, who represents the workers along in that process.
So, as they visit the workplace, the HSRs with them or the committee reps are with them as they go through their systems, they're with them. And the benefit of that is that our advisors get to hear from those representatives as well as the employer, get to really understand where that benchmark is, and then over the next period of time work with them to improve that consultation. Every time an inspector walks in a workplace, we also ask them to reach out for the HSR, reach out for the committee rep, reach out for the person who's representing the workers to do exactly the same thing. So, we have a lot of information on our websites, we have a lot of advisory services and, and now we are looking at how we can actually, um, produce more tailored information also going forward. There's a lot of changes coming up. Jacqueline spoke about a little bit before about the, the Psychosocial Code of Practice. Um, with that, you know, we are going to be looking at what kind of information we can also provide to our HSR and committees to understand what does that look like for them and their role. So that kind of tailored information for high risk sectors and high risk hazards. Um, so there's quite a lot going on, John. We're very busy at the moment, I've got to say.
That’s really good to hear about that one source of truth and the tailored sort of approach towards them as well.
It's, um, yeah, we want to support, we want to support the representatives to be the best they possibly can in their role to feel confident and also make sure that employers, uh, have got the right safety compliance behaviours and are working really well with those, um, those representatives because they, they'll be benefits all around if they do.
Yep. And in summary, I can see it, it really is an organisational priority to not only secure legislative compliance in this area, but also to provide industry with education and advice and just support to help them comply. That's fantastic. Thank you very much and thanks for sharing that information. No problem. Before I cross to a question answer sessions though, sorry, I'll try that again. Before I cross to our question and answer session, I wanted to let you know about some important resources that the Office of Industrial Relations or OIR in our jargon have recently released. Um, there's now a new WHS consultation landing page as Jodie, uh, touched on the Work Safe Queensland webpage. It brings together all consultation, representation and participation information and guidance all are in just one place, making it easy to access. Within this landing page we've now got the, uh, HSR portal.
This is a faster and a much easier way for PCBUs employers to provide a list of the HSRs to the regulator. Also, we have two new case study films showcasing HSR success stories in the manufacturing industry as well as the education sector. Along with that, there's even more, we have two new short animations for, um, for employees for PCBUs, outlining their duties relating to worker consultation and HSRs. The website also features the Safety Fundamentals Toolkit, a great resource for small to medium sized businesses containing specific information about WHS consultation that's freely downloadable from the, uh, Work Safe Queensland website or through the Injury Prevention and Management program or the IPAM program. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland also offers HSR Direct. Jacqueline touched on this one. It was reinforced through Jodi that that's a free advisory service. It's for elected HSRs to seek advice on any queries or to get help with writing PINs. Now we'll move on. Um, we'll go through, uh, to a question and answer session and we'll take our first question from the people out there, from our audience. Okay. First one I've got, I think we made handover to Jacqueline, maybe you can, uh, address this one for us. If workers are worried about raising safety concerns or seeking support, what would you encourage them to do?
Um, well the first thing I'd say, if you're a health and safety representative, uh, you are there to represent all of the workers in your work groups. So, whatever you're doing, you should be doing in consultation and conjunction with those workers. Um, and in fact, you know, for obviously from a union background, um, uh, we think that there is strength in collectivism, um, and there's certainly, uh, protection in that space as well. So, if you're a health and safety rep and you, you know, you have the backing of all of the workers on particular issues to raise them, um, then you're going have a lot more, um, I guess, um, uh, oomph when you're going to raise those with management. Um, uh, so that'll be the first thing that I'd say take people with you. That's what your job is. You're not there to be the independent expert.
You are the representative to provide advice and represent their views. Um, so that's more, in my view, I think that's more of a facilitator type role. So yes, you do have to have an understanding of health and safety, um, and you do have to be able to, um, know how to progress those issues and to be able to negotiate or participate an issue resolution. Um, but it's more taking the people with you, I think is the number one point that I would make. Um, if you need to, um, you know, the, the first step, so Jodie mentioned, and she touched on some of the things that health and safety reps, the powers and the functions that they have. So, under the Act, um, you know, so you can issue provisional improvement notices, you can issue a cease work direction if, if work is, is seriously unsafe.
Um, you can ask for reviews of particular control measures, uh, if those controls, um, are regulating or if they're, if they're, um, uh, if they're for regulated hazards. Um, so there's a number of different things that you can do under the act, but I think the most important thing to understand is you don't need to do all of those things if the first step is actually issue resolution. So, you need to understand what the process is to, to raise a matter in the workplace. So, there is a formal process so you can have an agreed procedure. Often times I think people think that that's actually the grievance procedure, that that exists in the enterprise agreement. Well, you know, no, that's not it. Um, and we find this even with unions that, that a lot, there's a lack of understanding about this. So, this is something we are raising in the Health and Safety Act review, Jodie, um, currently that's ongoing.
Um, but there are things which sit in the regulation, which are minimum steps that have to be, um, complied with. And so, there's things that you can do. So, in the first instance, you've obviously got to raise it with your supervisor, um, and to be able to try to deal with those issues. And that's why I'm suggesting very strongly that you should be able to do that with the support of your work group. So, you shouldn't be doing this out there by yourself. Um, if you're not able to progress those matters, again, it'll depend on your workplace. But as Jodie said, some workplaces have health and safety committees, uh, sometimes it's appropriate to refer them to, to the Health and Safety Committees, um, uh, for resolution. But go back to what your workplace procedure is. Um, uh, once you've exhausted that procedure, you've actually got a right to ask for, so if you've resolved the matter, you've got a right to ask, um, the PCBU the employer, um, to provide, uh, an outline of what was agreed to in writing. Um, and if you've got a rep, um, then you should be, you should have a copy of that. And you can also ask for that to be referred to the committee. I think they're really important points to make because often times things may be resolved, but then there's often a, a difference of opinion about what was the resolution. So, I think it's important to remember those things. And if you're not sure about those things and have a look in the regulation, uh, we're always asking for more public guidance material from the Office of Industrial Relations and we would hope to see some changes, I guess in this area in particular. Um, ring the HSR support service.
If you are a health and safety rep or you're a worker and you want some, um, confidential advice, uh, we're available Monday to Friday if you join our private page. Um, uh, you can also get access to a network of other health and safety reps who can also share their experiences in different industries or similar industries and workplaces. Uh, and if you're a union member, obviously contact your union, but focus initially I think is the issue resolution, um, uh, procedure, um, and then, you know, some of those other matters if they're appropriate in the circumstances.
That's great. Some pragmatic and practical advice though. Thank you, Jacqueline, that's a good response. We'll move back to the inbox. I can see we've got quite a number of questions coming in. We'll move through as many as we can do, but apologies if we don't go through to everybody's. The next one is from Patrick, and um, I'm going aim this one up. Peter, are you ready? Taken into consideration the new psychosocial safety, manage that WHS regulation, which has just been announced, what processes would you consider to both educate workers about the change but also use the new requirements to help drive some positive change?
Mm, great question. Thanks, Patrick. Uh, I think, uh, the key factors there is first of all, we have to build the awareness. I think everyone has to understand what the intentions are and obviously, uh, take into account where we want to see things grow too. I think once we've got that awareness, it's probably about understanding, uh, because everybody has that different role they're going play in regard to regulation and obviously with the code. So, I think it's important that, you know, managers know their piece, supervisors understand their piece. Um, the HSRs are going to play a bigger role in this space, then I think what they've been used to. So we've got to make sure that piece fits in. And, uh, I think once that's there, then we can do transformational sort of processes. Organisations really have a great opportunity with the new space of understanding psychosocial hazards, that they have that opportunity just to provide much better, um, overarching holistic health and safety. So, um, yeah, that'd be my three points to really start. It's a new journey and we've all got to take it together.
Thank you once again. Some real just practical and pragmatic stuff though. Some recommendations. Uh, we have another one here. Um, sorry, we're skipping through. I've got one for Jeff, if you don't mind. Jeff, I'll throw over to you. Uh, this is from Kylie. Um, have you ever had a request from a worker to be a HSR or established your committee though at Forge Engineering?
No, we, we haven't had a, a request at this point in time, uh, but certainly in other business, uh, units I've been involved with over the years. Um, you know, I've had those requests and, you know, established health and safety representation, uh, and also the result of committees. So, I've certainly seen, uh, both sides of it. Um, that's for sure. Um, but certainly at Forge here, we, we've taken that approach of, well, look, if someone does come forward with, hey, I want to, um, be part of that, um, and be a representation, our representative, the workers, um, that's okay and we, we'll deal with that as it comes along. But I would probably take a fair bit of, uh, confidence in the approach today, um, with how, how we do things, how we track things, and how do we openly deal with the incidents and issues and, seek resolution. So, in essence, every um, hazard raised links back to a CI, board, so visible management, um, and the person who has put that forward. And essentially we treat everybody as being a health safety representative of our business. They can put that idea forward, um, and they will not sign off on that card until it's completed to their satisfaction. And that's part of our process.
Thanks Jeff. Thank you. You've proven popular today, Peter. I've got another one come in that's, uh, been directed to you. This one's from James and Kelly. We're rolling two in together. Uh, but the general question is, any tips to encourage people to put their hand up to be a HSR or to be a committee rep?
Uh, it's the biggest challenge we have. Um, sometimes you'll see voluntold. I don't think that's a really good strategy because people go, "Oh, this is not what I expected." Uh, and I think also really having that safe space to speak up. So that's probably the big challenge for HSR and the committee members to really be in a space together that they're happy. That, uh, asking a question about why don't we have bamboo socks would be an example of, well, how do people then react to that in that committee space? So, I think if you can create that really safe environment where people can speak up and, uh, understand those, back to that role definition, uh, I think you've got a much better opportunity to get people to one, um, take that little step forward with courage to say, I'm happy to be put up for election. And then two, making sure that the internal health and safety team is really there, ready to support them. Because if we don't support them, then they really feel alone. And I think that really becomes a challenge for them to not only do their role but do it successfully. So, um, yeah, hopefully that helps for, um, James and Kelly. Yeah,
Can I just add loop in that, um, I think when we try to, as unions, when we try to get people to put their hands up for health and safety reps or, you know, a representative role, it's about trying to find people who are natural leaders as opposed to fixes, right? It goes back to what the role is, and people don't understand that a lot. So, they often get turned off doing the role because they think I'm going to have to fix all of those problems. Whereas, you know, it's really, it's about the work group and finding who are the natural leaders in that work group, who people respect, um, who someone is going to actually consult with other people and, you know, gently and actively seeking those people out because they're not necessarily going to be the people to put up their hands. Uh, but I think that's an important point in that space that, you know, I agree with you, they need to, people need to feel safe to be able to put up their hands, but I think we also need to be encouraging the right type of people to do the jobs and, you know, let the work group decide basically.
Yep, mm-hmm. . And we've obviously got to look at the, um, five days training as well. Cause that scares people off a little bit. Mm-hmm and I’m really refreshed that you guys are starting to look into that as an opportunity to reform in that space. So, I think that's really refreshing.
You pre-empted, uh, my final question for today, Peter, you must have some psychic powers going on.
As we have Jodie here from the regulator. We're going to, uh, turn to you now and ask a question that's come in from Mark. Why must the HSR course be five days, given that some workers find the course a little bit overwhelming, they're busy with other things, Does it have to be five days?
Well, it's interesting, isn't it that, um, uh, look, it's a prescribed course where it's delivered throughout registered training organisations. Uh, the quality of the course is really important to make sure that, um, that when a person walks away from doing that course, they feel confident and capable to be able to do their role. They don't have to be an expert in health and safety to be able to do that role. Um, but they need to be supported by health and safety in, in the workplace. Um, that course obviously talks to the legislation and, and really takes them through, uh, what to expect as a health and safety representative. And also, what does it mean in terms of the powers that they have? And that can be quite daunting. Um, over time the world is changing, the, the health and safety risks are changing the roles, um, that, that they undertake in workplaces because of the nature of work is changing.
So, the course also is able to touch in on that as well. So even talking, you know, as a regulator, um, we could see that HSRs were having difficulty, um, writing provisional improvement notices. So, we've added that and made that stronger in the course. Um, that doesn't mean that they're not able to get support later, but what we really want to make sure is that they have time in that week and it's only a week to make sure that, um, they feel confident and capable to walk out, know what support's there for them when they walk out the door, um, and, and really get that foundational knowledge that'll make them be the best that they can in that role. And it is a very small investment from a business to do that, knowing that when that person comes back into that role and into the workplace, they're going to be confident to be able to do it with, with the employer's support.
Thank you. Mm-hmm. , Jacqueline mentioned that she's in constant contact with you as well and, uh, mentioned about the review of the Act. Can you just take a moment or so to tell us what WSHQ is doing about the Act review?
Oh yeah. We've, um, the Minister, instructed OIR to be able to do and Health and Safety Queensland to undertake a review of the Health and Safety Act. Um, it's important that over periods of time the Act is reviewed because the, the world changes and there's certain important provisions within the terms of reference that, um, the Minister has asked independent reviewers to actually have a look at. Um, uh, the idea is to make sure that if, if things could work better in the Act, um, can provide the right level of protections that should be out there, that the Act speaks to that. Um, so that's underway at the moment. The independent reviewers are busily engaging with our stakeholders to identify and understand those particular issues that are perceived of not working. And, and they will make recommendations to the Minister around, um, what they believe, um, would be considered important to change and then the Minister and the Government would decide on those. So yeah, it's in the consultation stage at the moment. That's
That's a good update. Thank you very much. We've got a few other questions, but I'm just going to sort of round 'em all up and put 'em into my question. I suppose, putting it to the panel, you've all got a wealth of experience that you bring to this and thank you for being such a diverse panel as well, coming from different sectors. Um, but what would your top takeaway tip be to a business if they don't have maybe yet the best safety culture? How can they go about influencing leaders within their organisation?
I would say the best thing is to, you know, really focus on, uh, the benefits and, and what the organisation will get from having not just a great health and safety culture, but at overall a great culture in that workplace. Um, a great culture, um, not only spends energy and time understanding health and safety risks, um, it also invests in its people day to day in terms of their capability and their ability to work safer. Um, so, and the outcome of that is, is, is that there's less likelihood of people getting hurt if there's less likelihood of people getting hurt your valuable employees in this very competitive, um, labour market at the moment are not going get it hurt. They're going to be at work, they're going be happy. And in the case of if somebody does get hurt, a good culture looks after that person during that process and gets them back to work as quickly as possible and helps them, helps to protect them through that process. So, I think focusing on the benefits to both the workers and the business, um, and you'll, you know, you, the investment is small compared to the outcome you'll get.
Thank you. Peter?
Hmm. Coaching leaders. Uh, I think the big tip we can give for influencing is probably around leaders are busy people and, uh, got lots of things to, uh, work their way through. But a key thing for me is it's like positive parenting. How are you going to react when something goes wrong? How are the leaders going to react, uh, when something isn't quite as it should be? How are they going to react? Uh, and I think that positive way of being able to show culture and climate that's trying to be set in an organisation, this is making sure that, uh, not only is everyone following processes that have been set from above but making sure that they're well understood. So, uh, if someone can go into a workplace and not follow the rules, uh, because they're one of the bosses, that's the worst thing you can have. So, we've got to do bottom up, top down, let's find the middle because that's where the sweet spot is.
Sounds good. Sweet spot's always the good spot, isn't it to be. Yes. Jacqueline, I'm going turn to you. Um, yeah, who do we influence leaders when safety culture is not as good as maybe it can be. Who are we going to move through that and, uh, get people engaged?
Well, I might just reframe the question just slightly. Um, I just think that there's a lot of business in, uh, out there across different industry sectors that think they do safety really well because, you know, they comply with, um, ISO standards, they do checklists and they tick a box for, we've done all of these things, um, et cetera, and haven't we got a great system. They've got a, a slogan for safety. And, you know, the CEO often walks around site, you know, saying all of these great things about safety, but when you actually go and talk to the workers, you often find there's a completely different, um, culture and that oftentimes production or, you know, operations are prioritise over safety. Um, but oftentimes I don't think the senior management realises some of that stuff because they're not engaging, um, down at the lower sort of levels, if I could put it that way, down, talking to workers, um, or even with supervisors.
So, there's sometimes conflicting messages that are going around. So, the best advice that I could give is get out there and talk to workers and, and talk to you, your frontline supervisors and find out what's really going on in your workplace, um, and start to have a dialogue about what do you think a, a proper and a good workplace safety culture should be. Um, because I think we all agree that, you know, we want safe workplaces, but the practical implications of what that means for each workplace is very different. So go and ask, query and question, you know, what you're actually doing.
That's great. Thank you. Thanks Jacqueline. Jeff, I'm going to throw it to you. Um, final one in the row, and I'm sure that people have already covered a lot of them, but just for you personally and for Forge Engineering, maybe what's your top tip around influencing people within your business to, uh, to become leaders within that safety sphere?
Yeah, look, for me it is definitely about making it that, uh, safe place or that the safe environment that you can openly share the issues, uh, in. So, people don't want to openly share stuff where they'll feel belittled in front of peers, um, have a sense of I've done the wrong thing. They won't be encouraged to share anything in the future. So, for leaders, that's the most important thing about ensuring that you, you actually get out there and you start modelling those behaviours. So, for me, a lot of that coaching is about, you know, for the leaders, how do you show up every day to the people doing the work? Um, because of your approach is not one of, um, empathy, care and actually understanding, uh, and just jumping to conclusions. Um, you are not going to be, you know, winning their hearts and minds. So, it really is about, first and foremost that safe environment to share things in.
And I'll use the example of, you know, what we have done at Forge Engineering recently and look like a lot of manufacturing businesses all around Australia. You know, we all like to think we've got performance metrics that, um, show us how good we're going in various areas. You know, for us it's, um, people or safety and then quality, velocity, cost, and each one of those, um, you know, metrics streams means something different to everybody. But one of the things we did was, um, we realised that, you know, talking about number of days since, um, you know, last injury, well that's really a, a lagging indicator of, you know, what, what you're actually, you know, not doing in the business or what you are possibly doing well in the business. So, when we purposefully, uh, flipped that around and said, Look, we're not worried about that, we're not even going to talk to that because that's going to be a result of sharing more and I guess openly in that safe environment, sharing incidents when they happen and collectively, uh, sharing and consulting across the work group with what the outcome needs to be, to be sure it doesn't happen again, that's what really, you know, makes the difference.
Um, you know, we've seen a drastic improvement in our, you know, safety stats, um, you know, days since last group. Um, and it's extraordinarily sort of where we are today compared to, you know, only two years ago. And that's really about flipping that around to trying to create that safe environment. Um, is it easy? No. Um, a lot of leaders struggle with that. You know, we, we easily turn to the, the people, um, doing the work, um, as they're the cause. Well, they're not, but we've got to listen to 'em. So, for us, you know, as business owners’ leaders, we need to ensure that we are fostering that, uh, coaching and mentoring, um, with our frontline team all the time with how do they show up, how do they ensure that they're, you know, having a, a safe platform that people can openly share those ideas. So that's a real challenge. Um, I don't sit here saying it's easy, um, and it it takes a lot of effort. Um, but yeah, that, that's certainly the, the best advice I can give. You know, maintain that safe environment. It'll help believe that, uh, build that belief cycle in your team, um, where they collectively will always be part of the solution.
Thanks once again, Jeff, and just picking up that underlying core, core values of respect and trust. You mentioned in your earlier, uh, section and coming through strong again, thank you for, uh, making us aware of what's happening though with, uh, Forge Engineering. We do have time for long one last question. It's just come up, um, this one picked out of the, the stream and I think it's a real good one to actually maybe finish off the session. We've gone through the reasons why we should have HSRs, the training that they get put through the, um, obligations that they have. And maybe that's feeling a little bit overwhelming for a HSR. So, somebody who's gone through between all the training, they're coming out feeling overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility. Jodie, what would you say to them?
Uh, look, uh, it doesn't matter what course we go to. Um, I, I think a lot of us come back to work or whatever, feeling a little bit overwhelmed because we've got so much new knowledge. And for HSR, you know, it could, it's real, you know, you've got powers and you're able to do certain things. Um, I would advise, do the basics to start with, uh, your role is to gather information and represent a work group. Go out and talk to your work group, talk, gather information and talk to them about, um, what you've learned, understand, um, their, the things that they're seeing and experiencing and talk to them about what you've learned. Um, I think it's really important in the workplace for the employers, the supervisors, when people do come back from their changes, sit down and give them the time to, uh, talk to them about how they're feeling and if they're feeling overwhelmed and what kind of support they would need.
Um, you know, the legislation talks about it. It's, they need to be given reasonable time. They need to be given resources and support to be able to do that role effectively. So, the employer really plays a really large part of this. Um, but equally don't feel like you are sitting there all alone. You may have another HSR in your business that you can reach out to and talk to. You've also got the services through the QCU where you can go there and talk to other HSRs and, and, and be part of a network and get some support through that process. You can come through to the regulator and you can re request some advice in your workplace. Um, you can reach out independently, um, through our website and get some tools and information that you can just recap on what you've learned and what it all means.
Um, I think take it slow. Start with the start with the basics and realise that, um, you know, what you've done will, will form over time and you'll become more confident over time as you have that opportunity, um, to participate in that workplace. Um, I just wanted to add, because I always would like to add something at the end that just stop laughing, John. When we were talking little bit ago about how to influence, um, obviously in the regulator we've got incredible powers as well in terms of influencing behaviour and we do it everything from, you know, the, the top of the, the compliance pyramid, which a lot of people talk about where we can go out and use our regulatory tools and enforcement powers and we will do that as a regulator. We will go out there and help workers and make sure that workers are protected and use all of those powers when we need to.
But additionally, in terms of influence, we have so many other advisory, uh, approaches and products and we really do engage with our stakeholders, with our board, with our other, uh, the QCU and industry to try and support consultation more broadly. So, I would say in terms of influence, it's, you know, I think just knowing based on that question that you're not, not alone, that there's a lot of support services, but as a regulator, if, if we are going to have to deal with something, we will always deal with something as well in terms of influencing those behaviours. But at the end of the day, um, choosing to do the, the right thing and supporting your consultation arrangements and the individuals who put up their hand to volunteer is always going to be the better way.
Thank you Jodie. Thank you. That's been really enlightening and reassuring I think as well today to hear about all the different approaches that do going on and the many different ways that we can achieve sort of good consultation practices. And that's all we have time for today. So, I wanted to thank our guests, uh, both here and, uh, Jeff up in Mackay as well, for being, uh, part of this and being in the hot seat, showing their knowledge and experience, but also being so honest and open as well with the discussions. Thank you. Um, I'd also like to thank everyone who joined us online for this Work Well 365 Speaker Series session today. Today's presentation has been recorded and it'll be available on our website, so keep your eyes out for it in the coming weeks. We'd also appreciate your feedback on today's session. So please scan the QR code that's now on your screen and complete the short survey. We'll also be emailing the link out to everyone later today. And if you don't get the chance to complete the survey now, you can pick it up later on. Also, be sure to check out worksafe.qld.gov.au for other events and to access a full range of the free industry and topic specific video case studies, podcasts, speaker recordings, webinars, films, and all the other good stuff that's there available to help you take action to improve your workplace health and safety and return to work outcomes. Have a good day everyone. And remember, Work safe. Home safe.