Consultation@work

Consultation provides an opportunity use the knowledge and experience of your staff to achieve a safer and healthier workplace.

Provided the arrangements are planned and developed in consultation with workers, they can be quite flexible ranging from establishing a health and safety committee, having an health and safety representative (HSR), or through other agreed arrangements.

Consultation is a legal requirement and an essential part of managing health and safety risks.

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Consultation gives people the opportunity to participate and share information about work health and safety.

You can consult with workers in a variety of ways, including regular meetings or by setting up a health and safety committee.

Through talking about safety, you can become more aware of hazards in the workplace and workers can provide suggestions about how the work could be done safely.

Using the knowledge and experience of everyone helps to identify safety hazards and risks easier as well as finding and communicating practical solutions.


Basic requirements

There are requirements to consult with workers. Consultation must take place on all work health and safety matters including:

  • undertaking risk management activities
  • proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of workers
  • making decisions about any work health and safety procedures
  • the adequacy of facilities for the welfare of workers.

There are requirements to consult with other employers or businesses when you share concurrent WHS duties with another.

You must consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other and any workers of the business (or other PCBU) whose health and safety is likely to be effected.

There is some flexibility in establishing consultation arrangements to best suit the consultation needs of the workers at the workplace.

Health and safety representatives can be elected to represent various work groups and investigate health and safety issues.

Health and safety committees facilitate cooperation between you and your workers on health and safety matters and develop work health and safety standards, rules and procedures.

Once established, consultation must be in accordance with the procedures agreed to between you and the workers.

It may be more effective and meaningful to have an alternative arrangement for consultation if workers travel frequently or the business is small.

Regardless of the arrangement, your obligation to consult with all workers remains.


Other consultation arrangements

Other agreed arrangements are flexible alternatives for establishing agreed consultation arrangements that meet your business needs and improve decision making, especially where there is no health and safety representative (HSR) or health and safety committee (HSC).

In our case the traditional safety committee we tried didn't work.

Paul Lyndon

National Safety Manager, Diona Civil Constructions

And some workplaces may need a mix of health and safety representatives, committees and other agreed consultation arrangements tailored to suit the workers and the work environment.

How to set up other consultation arrangements

Some workplaces may need a mix of HSRs, HSCs and / or other consultation arrangements tailored to suit the workers and the work environment.

It may be more effective and meaningful to have an alternative arrangement for consultation if workers travel frequently or the business is small.

Other arrangements for consultation on health and safety matters could be through:

  • regular scheduled meetings
  • team meetings (where work health and safety is always an agenda item)
  • one-off meetings
  • tool box talks
  • face to face discussions
  • briefing sessions.

If a procedure for consultation has been agreed with workers, the consultation must be in accordance with those procedures.

Checklist for setting up other arrangements

The person conducting a business or undertaking must:

  • consult with the workers on how consultation will occur and explain what consultation requires
  • ensure the nature of consultation is consistent with requirements under section 48 of the WHS Act including ensuring information is shared and workers are given a reasonable opportunity to contribute
  • ensure consultation occurs when required under section 49 of the WHS Act
  • If a procedure for consultation has been agreed with workers, the consultation must be in accordance with those procedures
  • regularly monitor and review the consultation procedures to ensure they are the most effective form of consultation.

Our Consultation @ Work Strategy outlines how we are committed to helping NSW workplaces manage health and safety successfully through effective communication and consultation.

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