Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), employers must consult with employees on matters that directly affect (or are likely to directly affect) their health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Consultation must involve sharing information with employees, giving employees a reasonable opportunity to express their views and taking those views into account.
Where employees are represented by health and safety representatives (HSRs), these representatives must be involved in the consultation, so far as reasonably practicable.
The OHS Act sets out specific requirements on how HSRs are to be involved in consultation. These include:
- Providing HSRs with all the information about the matter that the employer provides, or intends to provide, to employees. If it is reasonably practicable, the information must be provided to the HSRs a reasonable time before it is provided to employees.
- Inviting HSRs to meet with the employer to consult on the matter or meeting with HSRs at their request.
- Giving HSRs a reasonable opportunity to express their views on the matter and taking those views into account.
Employers must include independent contractors and their employees in the consultation, so far as is reasonably practicable, if the employer has, or should have, control of a relevant matter that affects their health and safety.
Consultation is required when:
- identifying or assessing hazards or risks
- making decisions on how to control risks
- making decisions about the adequacy of facilities for employee welfare (such as dining facilities, change rooms, toilets or first aid)
- making decisions about procedures to:
- resolve health and safety issues
- consult with employees on health and safety
- monitor employee health and workplace conditions
- provide information and training
- determining the membership of any health and safety committee in the workplace
- proposing changes that may affect employee health and safety, such as changes to:
- the workplace
- plant, substances or other things used in the workplace
- the work performed at the workplace
- doing any other thing prescribed by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017.
For more information about consultation, see Consultation: A guide for Victorian workplaces