Consulting With Workers About Workplace Health and Safety

The Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) ( ‘the Act’) and the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) (‘the Regulations’) impose a duty on persons conducting a business or undertaking to consult with workers who are or are likely to be directly affected by a matter relating to work health or safety.

When to ‘consult’

Employers should consult their workers when they make decisions that could impact their workers’ health and safety. The Act lists a number of situations where an employer should consult with workers, including when identifying hazards, assessing and making decisions about health and safety risks to workers, proposing changes to health and safety consultation or other processes, and when making decisions about the adequacy of facilities for the welfare of workers.

Basic rule of thumb: if it can pose a threat to the safety of a worker, consult!

How to ‘consult’

An employer must share relevant information with workers and then give workers a reasonable opportunity to express their views and take those views into account when making decisions that could impact their workers’ health and safety. If the workers are represented by a health and safety representative, the consultation should involve that representative.

In a practical sense, this means that employers should not view the consultation process as a bureaucratic hurdle they can quickly clear. They should make an effort to take workers’ views into account and let those views shape the work health and safety decisions they make.

An easy way to carry out this process would be to send out a memo whenever a consultation is required, giving workers a suitable timeframe to provide their suggestions. Employers should take care to include those on short-term leave and any volunteer staff as well.

Penalties

The maximum penalty of an individual (such as a sole trader) who does not engage in this consultation process is $20,000.00 A company can be fined up to $100,000.00.

To ensure that your company is complying with the relevant work health and safety legislation, or to discuss any aspect of business or personal law contact Julia Adlem or Alisha Senior at Adelaide Legal on (08) 8410 9494.

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Julia Adlem

Associate Lawyer