Duty to consult
Employers or businesses, or anyone who falls under the definition of a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (a PCBU), has legal obligations under work health and safety laws.
The best systems are ones developed by a business in conjunction with workers. It’s not rocket science, just a method of delivering simple safety messages, information and support to workers.’
SafeWork Safety Inspector
When to consult
An employer and/or person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must consult with workers when they are likely to be or are directly affected by a situation involving their health and safety. And workers have to have an opportunity to express their views and contribute to any decisions relating to their health and safety.
For instance, any change to equipment, even for risk control purposes, must be discussed with workers before the change is made. Workers also need to be involved in any conversation about the adequacy of facilities.
As an employer, you must consult when:
- identifying hazards and assessing risks
- making decisions about ways to eliminate or control risks
- changing or updating workplace facilities
- proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of workers
- making decisions about consulting procedures, resolving safety issues, monitoring workers’ health and conditions, and providing information and training.
You also need to consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with other individuals and organisations – and any health and safety representatives or committees – who have a duty in relation to the same matter.
Remember, consultation must be regular and ongoing.
Types of consultation
Some workplaces have regular meetings of all staff, sometimes called ‘toolbox talks’, others establish health and safety committees (HSCs) or elect health and safety representatives (HSRs) to consult and represent safety concerns to management. It is important to establish an arrangement that best suits the needs of your workers.
For the specific laws about PCBU obligatons, see sections 70 – 74 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
There are also general work health and safety laws that will apply to you in any situation, including when supporting HSRs.