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Consulting with workers

Having a conversation with your workers lets you gain first-hand knowledge and experience that will help make your business safer and healthier.

Why consult?

Your workers are directly affected by your decisions and can often see things that you may overlook. Consultation enables you to share information and take workers' views and suggestions into account.

Benefits of consultation

  • You get input on hazards, risks and solutions from people who understand and do the work.
  • Being involved in making decisions means people are more committed to implementing them.
  • Regular communication on health and safety helps build co-operation and trust between employers and employees.
  • You must consult with workers who are likely to be directly affected by a health and safety issue in your workplace.
  • If a health and safety representative is appointed to represent workers, the consultation must involve them.
  • This responsibility is covered by your duty to consult in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

You must consult with any workers of the business whose health and safety is likely to be affected.

Health and safety representatives

If you have an elected health and safety representative, then they must be involved in any consultation that may affect the members of their work group.

Consult with other businesses

There may be times when you need to consult with other businesses. Examples of this include:

  • when more than one business is operating at a workplace such as shopping centres, construction projects or multi-tenanted office buildings
  • when you have contractors or labour-hire workers.

Consultation must be regular and ongoing. You must consult with your workers when:

  • identifying hazards and assessing risks
  • deciding how to eliminate or minimise risks
  • making decisions about workplace facilities
  • proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of workers
  • making decisions about how you will: 
    • consult with your workers
    • resolve health and safety issues
    • monitor your workers' health and safety or workplace conditions
    • provide health and safety information and training to your workers.

You can consult with workers by:

  • holding regular meetings, formal or informal
  • electing a health and safety representative
  • appointing a health and safety committee.

Some workplaces have regular meetings of all staff, sometimes called 'toolbox talks', others establish health and safety committees or elect health and safety representatives to consult and represent safety concerns to management.

If your workplace is small and there are no health and safety representatives, then meetings or face-to-face discussions may be the best way to consult.

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