Consulting and cooperating to manage risks to health and safety is essential to keeping everyone safe. It’s also a legal requirement.
Who – PCBUs must consult with:
- Workers, and any health and safety representatives (HSRs)
- Other PCBUs they share duties with, for example businesses you work with or share premises with.
What – PCBUs must consult on any work health and safety (WHS) matters.
When – PCBUs must consult when:
- Identifying WHS hazards, assessing risks, and deciding how to manage them
- proposing changes that might affect workers’ health and safety
- developing certain work procedures
- deciding what facilities workers need (e.g. toilets, eating facilities, first aid etc).
For more detail on when to consult, refer to WHS duties and Consulting, cooperating and coordinating activities with other duty holders.
Why – Consultation with workers helps PCBUs:
- better understand health and safety risks
- make better decisions about how each risk will be managed, and
- meet their legal obligations.
Consultation with other PCBUs (if duties are shared) makes sure everyone understands:
- what the health and safety risks are, and
- who will be taking the necessary actions to manage the risks.
How – There is no set way that consultation must occur. For smaller workplaces with few workers, it might be as simple as regularly talking to workers about health and safety matters. Consultation can also occur through usual communications, like team meetings and toolbox talks. Larger or more complex workplaces may need more formal ways of consulting. Consultation should be done in a way that is accessible and can be understood by everyone, for example people who are culturally or linguistically diverse.
Some workplaces may have HSRs elected to represent the health and safety interests of workers. For more information refer to Health and Safety Representatives.
Workplaces may also have a health and safety committee (HSC), which is a more structured way of bringing together the PCBU and workers to discuss health and safety. For more information refer to Health and Safety Committees.
Safe Work Australia has developed a range of resources on consultation to assist PCBUs in meeting their WHS duties.
- Model Code of Practice: Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination
- Worker representation and participation guide
- Infographic: Consultation duties for PCBUs
- Infographic: How to consult with workers
- Infographic: Health and safety representatives
Additional resources are available on our Resources page.