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Consultation

Consultation with your workers and other duty holders must underpin ALL your work health and safety activities. Consultation is a legal requirement and an essential part of managing health and safety risks.

Do you need to consult about workplace health and safety?

YES. Consultation is a legal requirement under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) (the WHS Act), and an essential part of managing health and safety risks.

Why is consultation important?

A safe workplace is more easily achieved when everyone involved communicates with each other to identify hazards and risks, talks about health and safety concerns and works together to find solutions. By drawing on workers' knowledge and experience, more informed decisions can be made about how to carry out work safely.

Effective work health and safety consultation also has other benefits:

Who do you need to consult?

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must consult with workers and other duty holders about work health and safety.

Workers

Worker input and participation improves decision making about health and safety and assists in reducing work related injuries and disease.

The broad definition of a 'worker' under the WHS Act means that you must consult with your employees plus anyone else who carries out work for your business or undertaking (e.g. contractors, sub-contractors and their employees, on-hire workers, and volunteers).

Duty holders

Work heath and safety and safety duties can be the responsibility of more than one person; for example, PCBUs, officers (such as company directors) and workers all have work health and safety duties. At times, these duty holders' work activities may overlap and interact. When they share a duty, or are involved in the same work, they are required to consult with each other.

In many instances there are multiple PCBUs at one workplace, for example construction work sites.  In these situations each PCBU will have work health and safety duties on the same matters and are required to consult and co-operate with each other to ensure their duties are met. For example, at a workplace with multiple PCBUs, each PCBU has a duty to ensure the provision of adequate facilities for their workers. The PCBUs are required to consult, co-operate and co-ordinate to ensure the facilities provided are adequate for all the workers at the workplace.

Consulting with other duty holders ensures you each understand how your activities may impact on health and safety and that the actions you each take to control risks are complementary.

Where can you find more information?

The Work Health and Safety Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination 2011 (PDF, 249 kB) contains detailed information about: