There is a duty to consult with your workers and consult with other duty holders at the same workplace.
Duty to consult with other duty holders
There are often a number of different duty holders involved in workplaces (e.g. suppliers, contractors and building owners). The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) (WHS Act) requires that where more than one person has a duty for the same matter, each person retains responsibility for their duty and must discharge the duty to the extent to which the person can influence and control the matter.
In these situations the WHS Act requires that each person with a duty must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with all other persons who have a work health and safety duty for the same matter. Each duty holder must share information in a timely manner and cooperate to meet health and safety obligations.
The duty requires persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to work together in a proactive and reciprocal way so that all risks associated with an activity, that they are involved in, are eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.
Duty to consult with workers
The WHS Act requires duty holders to consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with their workers who are likely to be directly affected by a matter relating to work health and safety.
Consultation is a collaborative process between the PCBU and workers. It involves sharing information about health and safety. PCBUs must give workers who are, or are likely to be, directly affected by a matter relating to health and safety, a reasonable opportunity to express their views or raise issues. If a health and safety representative representing workers, the consultation must involve them.
A PCBU must consult with workers when:
- identifying hazards and assessing risks arising from work
- proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of workers
- carrying out activities prescribed by the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (PDF, 2.53 MB).
A PCBU must also consult with workers and take their views into account when making decisions about:
- ways to eliminate or minimise risks
- the adequacy of facilities for workers' welfare
- procedures for consulting workers
- resolving health and safety issues
- monitoring the health and safety of workers or workplace conditions
- how to provide health and safety information and training to workers.
Workers are entitled to:
- elect a health and safety representative
- request the formation of a health and safety committee
- cease unsafe work
- have health and safety issues resolved in accordance with an agreed issue resolution procedure
- not be discriminated against for raising health and safety issues.
For more information
Part 5 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) and Part 2.1 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (PDF, 2.53 MB) sets out requirements for PCBUs to consult with their workers in the establishment of health and safety representatives and committees and what the roles of these positions involve.
Further guidance on consultation can also be found in the Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination Code of Practice 2011.