A safe and healthy workplace is easier to achieve when workers are consulted and involved. Many of the incidents that occur in workplaces probably may have been prevented if workers had been consulted and involved.
This article suggests steps that could be taken to increase the involvement of workers in WHS in your workplace and also upgrade the safety culture in your workplace.
The Flexible Methods of Consultation
Consultation can be carried out under the WHS Act by one or more of the following methods:
- health and safety committees (WHS Act 2011 s.75)
- health and safety representatives (WHS Act s.50/51)
- other agreed arrangements (WHS Act s. 47(2))
In addition to the H&S Committee's functions specified in the WHS Act, a PCBU and a Committee can agree that a Committee can take on other WHS functions (WHS Act 77 (c)). And using the "agreed arrangements" option, a PCBU and workers can also agree to use arrangements that best suit their workplace operations.
In NSW you can now find many workplaces with a H&S Committee and HSR's and some workplaces using all three methods of consultation.
Perhaps in your workplace there is room and good reason to increase the WHS involvement of your HSR's, your H&S Committee, or those already involved in "agreed arrangements?
Suggestions for Greater Involvement
Here are just a few suggestions. You may be already doing these. If not you may find some of them suitable for use in your workplace. Or you may have other ideas for that would work well in your current health and safety systems.
Involve Committee members, HSRs or others in:
- verifying that risk controls including safety procedures are maintained and whether workers have any concerns about them.
- reviewing whether the risk controls being used are still effective.
- checking the workplace for unhandled hazards.
- checking that an incident report is made out for all incidents and whether workers have any problems with the report.
- checking that incidents including near misses are investigated.
Many workers like to help when they are confident about what they have to do. You may want to inform or train some of them.
And if Senior Managers make their personal presence felt in the risk areas of the workplace and demonstrate strong commitment to WHS and the value of the work done by HSRs, Committee members or others, then the safety culture in your workplace will be improved.
See - page 6, What is Effective Consultation, and
page 11 How to Consult with Workers, Code of Practice: WHS Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination