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Is Your WHS Consultation Process Effective?
Mandatory WHS Consultation
As you know a PCBU must consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking and who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a health and safety matter (Section 47 WHS Act).
Most medium to large businesses use health and safety committees and/or HSRs to consult with workers.
The duty to consult is based on the recognition that worker input and participation improves decision-making about health and safety matters and assists in reducing work-related injuries and disease.
But are you obtaining all the expected benefits from the consultation process in your workplace?
Do you Obtain these Benefits from WHS Consultation?
You could reasonably expect that because you have HSRs and/or a H&S Committee and a consultation process, that your workplace will have benefits such as;
The PCBU and other duty holders are in a better position to identify hazards and workable solutions to health and safety matters
More informed decisions can be made about how the work should be carried out safely because you draw on the knowledge, experience expertise and skills of your workers,
A safer workplace – because everyone involved in the work communicates with each other to identify hazards and risks, talks about any health and safety concerns and works together to find solutions. This includes cooperation between the people who manage or control the work and those who carry out the work or who are affected by the work.
Greater awareness and commitment – because workers have been actively involved in developing health and safety decisions.
Positive working relationships – because understanding the views of others leads to greater co-operation and trust.
Improved ability of workers to identify and control hazards
Increased motivation of workers to work safely
Improved safety culture
Gaps in managing health and safety risks are handled - where you share responsibility for health and safety with another person, consulting, co-operating and co-ordinating activities with these other duty holders can prevent situations such as:
- a lack of understanding of how the activities of each person may add to the hazards and risks to which others may be exposed
- duty holders assume that someone else is taking care of the health and safety matter
- the person who takes action is not the best person to do so.
Review of Consultation Benefits in your Workplace
If you use the above list of benefits as a checklist you may identify one or more areas in your workplace where the expected benefits of consultation are not yet apparent. Further attention to those areas could then reveal actions that are needed to improve the situation and achieve the expected benefits.
The section about benefits is based upon material in the Safe Work Australia Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination Code of Practice.
You are welcome to download this article and distribute it within your organisation.