The Role of a Health and Safety Committee Member
Weekly WHS Article 16th February 2023
PCBUs are primarily responsible for ensuring that a workplace is safe and healthy but Health and Safety Committee members can play a key role in helping the PCBU to make it a safe and healthy workplace a reality.
What is a Health and Safety Committee?
A Health and Safety Committee is made up of workers and management who work together as a forum for consultation on health and safety matters in their workplace with the aim of helping to make it a safe and healthy workplace. The committee helps the business create, modify, or update WHS policies, procedures, plans, and workplace measures that help the WHS management system run successfully.
Who Can be a Health and Safety Committee member?
At least half of the members must be workers and the rest are management members. Ideally the Committee should include senior managers who have the authority to make decisions about improvement and have a good knowledge of the workplace. (see Ref 1)
What are the functions of a Health and Safety Committee?
Per Section 77 of the WHS Act, a Health and Safety Committee's functions are to:
facilitate co-operation between the person conducting a business or undertaking and workers in instigating, developing and carrying out measures designed to ensure health and safety at work, and
assist in developing standards, rules and procedures relating to health and safety that are to be followed or complied with at the workplace, and
satisfy any other functions prescribed by the regulations or agreed between the person conducting the business or undertaking and the Health and Safety Committee. (see Ref 2)
NOTE. As of 2023 there are no "other functions" prescribed in the WHS Regulation, and any other actions the committee is engaged in must be in accordance with the PCBU's duty to consult on WHS matters as per Sections 46-49 of the WHS Act.
What are the benefits of having a Health and Safety Committee?
“The benefits of a Health and Safety Committee include:
having regular, planned and structured discussions about health and safety matters
encouraging a co-operative approach to health and safety
bringing together a group of worker and management representatives to collaboratively discuss and develop ways of improving the systems for managing health and safety at the workplace
encouraging the development and retention of corporate knowledge on health and safety matters for the workplace.” (see Ref 3)
A Health & Safety Committee that is committed and functioning effectively as a team can be a source of significant contributions that help a PCBU achieve a safe and healthy workplace.
Ref 1 - Section 77, NSW WHS Act
Ref 2 - Section 77, NSW WHS Act Ref 3 – SafeWork NSW Code of Practice, WHS Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination, pages 20/21
The quotation in ref 3 – Except for the NSW Government logo, this copyright work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 3.0 Australia License. To view a copy of this licence, visit www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/au
16th February 2023
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