Are you satisfied that WHS consultation in your workplace is effective?
The meaning of effective consultation is covered in the Code of Practice - Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination. You can find a checklist for effective consultation in our June 2013 issue of Your Safety Matters
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 47-49 WHS Act).
You probably consult in your workplace by using as system of HSRs and/or a Health & Safety Committee but would your workers agree that the WHS consultation process in your workplace is effective. Recent research by Safe Work Australia may make you wonder.
Recent Research From Safe Work Australia
Survey work by Safe Work Australia of businesses in the manufacturing industry (Work Health & Safety Perceptions- Manufacturing Industry - Safe Work Australia) identified the shortcomings and need for improvement in WHS consultation. For example Safe Work Australia reported that:
About 20% of workers did not agree that "health and safety concerns are discussed"
18% of "employers reported that they listen to safety concerns but often do not have time to address them"
23% of workers felt that "the business does not usually give workers the opportunity to express their views about health and safety matters"
23% of workers "felt that the business did not usually listen to worker's suggestions about safety". About
30% of workers reported that the "business usually does not involve workers when proposing changes that may affect their health and safety".
Do You Need to Improve WHS Consultation in Your Workplace?
You might like to consider taking the following steps;
Do a survey in your workplace to determine if there are any areas of consultation that need to be improved. You could easily turn this checklist into a survey tool or amend it to suit your workplace. Also see our article What Managers Supervisors Must Do in WHS Consultation with Workers.
Analyse the survey responses so that you can compare the responses of your managers, supervisors, and other workers. (There could be significant differences in responses between the 3 groups.)
Distribute the survey results to your managers, supervisors, and other workers.
Use the consultation system in your workplace to obtain agreement and action on any areas of consultation that are in need of improvement.
You are welcome to download and distribute the article in
your workplace if you feel it may be useful