Health and safety committees (HSCs)
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.
An HSR can also be a member of an HSC.
Health and safety committees allow businesses (and other PCBUs) to work together with workers on health and safety matters.
A committee is effective if you have a large business and need to consult on matters that are the same across several work groups or workplaces.
Functions of an HSC
The main functions of the health and safety committee are to:
- facilitate co-operation in developing and carrying out measures to improve the safety of workers
- help develop health and safety standards, rules and procedures.
Establishing a committee
An HSC can be established on your own initiative or at the request of:
- a HSR, or
- five or more workers.
You have two months to establish a committee if requested to do so.
A committee can also be established for workers who carry out work at one or more locations or for those who do not have a fixed place of work.
You can choose to set up a committee to run long term or for a fixed period of time. For example, a committee may be established to develop standards and procedures for a new system of work and cease operation when the matters have been addressed. Then the workplace can go back to its original consultation arrangements.
The make-up of the committee is agreed between you and your workers. You can nominate up to half the members. The workers on an HSC must ensure genuine worker representation and an HSR can be a member of the HSC, if they want to be.
A HSR is to be a member of the committee, if they consent. If there are two or more HSRs at a workplace, then they can choose one or more who consent to be members of the committee.
Operation of a committee
The committee must meet at least every three months, and at any reasonable time requested by at least half the members of the committee.
To make the consultation effective, members must be provided with:
- reasonable time to attend meetings and carry out their functions as a committee member
- be paid at their normal rate of pay when undertaking committee tasks
- access to information about hazards and risks at the workplace, as well as information relating to the safety of workers at the workplace (excluding workers' personal or medical information without the workers' consent).
There are special provisions for health and safety committees in coal and mine workplaces.
The HSC for a coal mine must include:
- at least one person who is a site safety and health representative for the coal mine, and
- at least one person who is an electrical safety and health representative for the coal mine.