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Workplace safety and health consultation is a two-way process involving the business and workers communicating and co-operating with each other in regards to workplace safety and health issues. The two-way communication will enable them to engage in common discussion resulting in optimal outcome for safe workplace environment. As well as being good business sense, the workplace safety and health consultation is specific legal obligations.
*Note: ‘Workers’ in this context include ‘employees’, ‘contractors’ and ‘labour hires’.
Effective consultation acts as a proactive means to uncover a wealth of information and knowledge relating to work process and work safety practice from workers. Getting workers to participate in consultation is likely to help prevent work-related injuries and incidents. Research has found that safety and health consultation enhances workplace safety, increases productivity and encourages workers’ commitment by:
Small business (employer) has a duty in safety and health legislation to consult and co-operate with workers, or their representatives (if any) over matters affecting their safety and health at the workplace. There are also specific requirements regarding the election of workplace safety and health representatives. The duty to consult extends to contractual arrangements, such as, between a principal contractor and contractors; and an employer and labour hires.
Consultation should be initiated prior to any workplace initiatives or changes that may affect the safety and health of workers. This may include, but is not limited to the following:
Remember that effective consultation is a two-way process. The following are some suggestions that can be used to achieve consultation in small business.
Small business could employ the following to enhance cooperation and effective consultation with employees.
The process of consultation should be documented. It is recommended that toolbox safety meetings, pre-start talks, meeting minutes, actions and outcomes are recorded. Workers agreement to safe work method statement and job safety analysis should be recorded.