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Executive/Senior Manager - Consultation and communication

A healthy and safe workplace is more easily achieved when workers at all levels within the business talk to each other about potential problems and work together to find solutions.

From their knowledge of the workplace and work practices, workers can provide valuable input on work hazards. Consultation on health and safety matters between the PCBU, senior and middle managers and workers can result in

  • healthier and safer workplaces
  • better decisions on health and safety matters
  • a stronger commitment by everyone to implementing decisions
  • greater cooperation and trust between managers and workers.

What is consultation?

Consultation is a two-way exchange of information. It should be seen as an opportunity to add value to the decision-making processes.

Consultation means to appropriately inform workers, inviting and considering their response prior to a decision being made. Worker opinions should not be assumed. Sufficient action must be taken to secure workers’ responses and give their views proper attention. Consultation requires more than a mere exchange of information. Workers must be able to contribute to the decision-making process, not only in appearance but in fact.

When is consultation required?

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

A safe workplace is more easily achieved when everyone involved in the work communicates with each other to identify hazards and risks, talks about any health and safety concerns and works together to find solutions. This includes cooperation between the people who manage or control the work and those who carry out the work or who are affected by the work

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) a person conducting a business or undertaking must consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking and who are (or likely to be) directly affected by a health and safety matter.

The WHS Act identifies specific matters that trigger the requirement for consultation (section 49):

  • identifying hazards and assessing risks arising from work
  • making decisions about ways to eliminate or minimise those risks
  • making decisions about the adequacy of facilities for the welfare of workers
  • proposing changes that may affect the health or safety of workers
  • making decisions about the procedures for resolving health or safety issues
  • monitoring the health of workers or workplace conditions, information and training or consultation with workers

However, it may be useful to also consult workers about matters that are not listed above, for example when conducting investigations into incidents or ‘near misses’.

Page last updated: 03 May 2017