Safety capability can be improved with frequent and open communication to identify potential errors and improve work practices.
During organisational change, effective consultation can also help identify potential issues early and respond to problems before they become bigger issues.
Regular communication on work health and safety (WHS) will build co-operation and trust between employers and employees. Workers are directly affected by your decisions and can often see things you may overlook. Consultation is an important part of your overall safety management system and can include:
- discussion groups such as toolbox talks, informal chats, focus groups, virtual meetings
- updates by emails, noticeboards, or newsletters
- providing a suggestion box
- worker representation via health and safety representatives (HSRs) or health and safety committees (HSCs).
WHS is part of everyone’s business and leaders should encourage and support workers to participate in WHS activities. Leaders can do this by sharing a vision and showing genuine interest and enthusiasm for workers’ WHS and wellbeing. Consider age, language, literacy, shift work and remote locations so the message is easy for all workers to understand. As the workplace changes and evolves, check your approach and if necessary, adapt how you consult to ensure your communication is effective.
The Young worker safety toolkit (PDF, 4.59 MB) can assist managers, supervisors, leaders and mentors understand specific characteristics and risk profiles of young workers, and help determine the best method of engaging and communicating with them.
Managers should be change champions, acting as advocates for better systems and processes that provide a safe workplace for everyone.
They should consult and share information with workers about proposed changes. Workers are more likely to embrace WHS related changes if they are consulted and invited to provide feedback before changes are implemented.
The Mentally healthy workplaces toolkit has practical tools and resources that employers, managers, and supervisors can use to monitor workers’ responses to workplace changes. Use a risk management approach to record, assess and control any identified risks that may cause harm resulting from the changes.
Workers who understand the link between strategy, operations and the potential benefits of organisational change are more likely to provide feedback and raise WHS concerns.
Consultation mechanisms such as health and safety representatives (HSRs) or health and safety committees (HSCs) can help you to gather information and better understand worker views and concerns about their work environment and the impact of proposed changes.
Informal workplace leaders can be ‘change champions’, by sharing information and acting as advocates for better systems and processes that create a safer workplace for everyone.
Organisational change can increase stress and anxiety for some workers and may require a period of adjustment. Supporting workers through increased communication, additional training, and emotional care can help them adjust to change.
- Talk to your workers about how they would like to see you communicate and consult with them. This may involve using a variety of methods so everyone can participate.
- Offer worker representation via Health and safety representative (HSRs) or health and safety committees (HSCs). If your business is small, it may be more effective to consult directly with senior management.
- If significant organisational changes are planned, activities such as meetings, email updates or focus groups may be needed to support your workers.
- Supervisors and managers will likely need extra information and training to support workers, and respond to any concerns or questions about proposed changes
- Continue to monitor worker health and wellbeing after changes are made, through ongoing communication to listen to worker concerns, provide reassurance and focus on the benefits of change moving forward.
View the Resources page for information and tips on how to improve your systems and processes to build your safety capability and understand your legal obligations.