FAQs - Health and safety committee (HSC)
This page contains frequently asked questions about health and safety committees (HSC).
When should a HSC be established?
A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must establish an HSC within two months after being asked to do so by either a health and safety representative (HSR) or five or more workers at the workplace.
A PCBU can also choose to establish an HSC to improve consultation at the workplace.
How is an HSC established?
The PCBU and workers must agree on how the HSC will be formed, and who will be in the HSC. The consultation process and agreement should be documented.
The HSC must include:
- HSRs – unless they don’t want to be members. If there is more than one HSR, they can choose which HSRs will be HSC members
- workers – at least half the HSC members must be workers who are not chosen by the PCBU
- PCBU representatives – at least one person who is senior enough to make decisions about safety so that recommendations made by the committee can be actioned or facilitated.
Before the HSC is formed, the PCBU and workers should also agree on:
- what should happen if there is a vacancy
- functions of the HSC
- the procedures of the HSC.
Sample templates of an HSC constitution, agenda and minutes can be downloaded from Safe Work Australia’s website.
What is the role of an HSC?
HSCs are an important part of work health and safety consultation. They give PCBUs and workers a forum to regularly discuss and make recommendations on health and safety issues.
The functions of the HSC are to:
- facilitate cooperation between the PCBU and workers in instigating, developing and carrying out measures to ensure workers’ health and safety
- assist in the development of work health and safety standards, rules and procedures
- perform any other functions agreed between the PCBU and HSC.
The committee should also be involved in considering and making recommendations on changes (or intended changes) that may affect the health and safety of workers. The committee is an advisory group and it remains the PCBU’s responsibility to make decisions about health and safety issues.
Day-to-day health and safety issues do not need to be dealt with by the HSC and should be resolved promptly by the PCBU or health and safety officer.
How often should the HSC meet?
The HSC should meet at least every three months. The HSC can also meet at any reasonable time if at least half the committee members request a meeting.
The HSC members may decide to meet more than once every three months. When deciding how often the HSC should meet, members should consider the:
- size and location of the workplace
- number and composition of workers at the workplace
- nature of the work being carried out
- nature of the hazards at the workplace.
Reasonable time should be allowed during each meeting to ensure discussion of all business.
How do disputes regarding the establishment of safety and health committees get resolved?
PCBUs and workers should work to resolve any issues relating to the establishment of safety and health committees.
If the PCBU and workers cannot agree on how to form the HSC, anyone affected may ask the regulator to appoint an inspector to make a decision.
What are the duties of the PCBU to the HSC and its members?
The PCBU must ensure:
- each member of the HSC is allowed to spend a reasonable amount of time performing their role as an HSC member, including attending meetings
- while performing their role, HSC members are paid the rate they would usually earn during that period
- the HSC is given access to information on work health and safety at the workplace, including hazards and associated risks, and the health and safety of workers (a worker’s personal or medical information must not be shared without their consent)
- they consider recommendations and other decisions made by the HSC within an reasonable timeframe, and provide a response to the recommendation or decision
- that where the PCBU agrees with a recommendation of the HSC, they take action to implement change.
A PCBU must not discriminate against a worker for being or proposing to be an HSC member, or for any action they take as an HSC member.
What if the workplace doesn’t have an HSC?
Consultation is a legal requirement and an essential part of managing health and safety risks.
If an HSC is not established, the PCBU must ensure there are other consultation arrangements in place. For more information on consultation in the workplace, please refer to the Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination: Code of practice.
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