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HSR Involvement in the WHS Management System

Weekly WHS Article 5th May 2023

The Model WHS laws, in force since 2011, describe how a business may organize its workplace into workgroups and then have representatives of each workgroup represent the workers in those workgroups so the business can obtain everyone’s views and contributions on health and safety matters that the business needs to consult its workforce on. The PCBU has a duty to consult on WHS matters, as described in Sections 46-49 of the WHS Act 2011.

There are a few key takeaways from what the law says about this:

  • A consultation process between PCBU and workers is required every time a matter to do with the health and safety of the workplace needs to be addressed.

  • It is the PCBU’s duty to consult the workers before acting or making decisions. They need not act on any or all recommendations gathered from the workforce about the matter, but they must be able to prove that consulted in the first place.

  • In businesses where the workers are represented by Health and Safety Representatives, members of the leadership team (as representatives of the PCBU) must speak to the HSRs from every workgroup and coordinate with each on how get the feedback from the people in their workgroups. HSRs need to cooperate with the requests.

  • The WHS Act states that every person must be able to give their views and suggestions if the health and safety matter may affect them in their job. Every person must be given that chance.

Operational involvement

Health and Safety issues can happen at any time. Therefore, consultation may need to take place at any time. HSRs need to be there to have the required conversations. It might be an emergency. If the HSR is off site or off work on that day then a deputy HSR must take over.

Consultation needs to be able to take place at any given time during the day, every day of the week. In businesses that have work groups, an HSR therefore is important to the operation of the WHS management system.

WHS consultation is a two-way street

The health and safety management system is to be provided by the PCBU and the directors and CEOs manage it. They get their line managers and supervisors to ensure staff follow the rules. Cooperation, coordination and representation is a two-way street, and in a business where HSRs are trained and empowered to do their part in helping the business provide a safe and healthy work environment, you would expect a robust and strong WHS management system. Such is a win-win for everyone. Following the requirements of the WHS Act and WHS Regulation make this thoroughly achievable.

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4th May 2023

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