Consultation can occur in different ways depending on what suits your workplace and workers.
The best way to consult will depend on:
- the size of the business and how it is structured
- the way work is arranged and where workers are located
- what suits workers - ask your workers how they would like to be consulted and consider their needs, and
- the complexity, frequency and urgency of the issues that require consultation.
You can consult through formal arrangements, or it might be appropriate to consult using your usual interactions with workers at work. For smaller workplaces with fewer workers and lower risks, it may be as simple as regularly talking directly to workers about health and safety.
There are many ways consultation might occur, including through:
- health and safety representatives (HSRs)
- health and safety committees
- regular team meetings
- pre-start briefings
- ‘toolbox talks’
- as part of your regular interactions with workers (e.g. when you walk the floor)
- regular staff updates, emails and feedback.
Consultation needs to be accessible to workers and encourage their participation. For example, you might need to:
- stagger the times you consult to include workers on different shifts
- have an open-door policy on health and safety
- use surveys and feedback forms to seek workers’ views anonymously
- hold special meetings with workers who undertake specific tasks
- use worker representatives such as HSRs to support workers to participate in health and safety consultation
- provide extra support or information for young or new workers
- use translation and interpretation to consult with culturally and linguistically diverse workers.
Workers are more likely to engage in consultation when their ideas and concerns about health and safety are taken seriously.
You should encourage your workers to:
- ask questions about health and safety
- raise concerns and report problems
- share their knowledge and experience
- make safety recommendations, and
- be part of the problem-solving process.
Agreeing on consultation procedures with your workers can be helpful in avoiding any confusion about how and when consultation will occur.
Consultation procedures are likely to be most effective if they outline:
- the issues you need to consult on
- who will be consulted
- the ways consultation will occur
- how information will be shared with workers and health and safety representatives
- how workers and health and safety representatives can give their views
- how consultation will occur with workers who have a disability, special language or literacy needs
- how feedback will be given to workers and health and safety representatives, and
- timeframes for reviewing the procedures.
To learn more about how to consult with workers, refer to supporting information listed below.
- Model Code of Practice: Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination
- Worker representation and participation guide