What is the best approach for resolving safety and health issues in the workplace?
Occupational safety and health legislation is designed to ensure there is an opportunity for issues to be resolved in the workplace, and employers have obligations to attempt to resolve issues when brought to their attention. Elected safety and health representatives may be involved in the resolution process. Other options include discussing the matter with the safety and health committee, mine manager or employer.
You should be clear as to what the issues are and where they are located. Listing them on paper will help to ensure all issues are covered and will assist the person you are dealing with. To improve the likelihood of a resolution that satisfies all concerned, formal complaints to Resources Safety should be considered only after the site’s process has been attempted.
The emphasis should be on resolving the issue in the workplace first. This does not mean that Resources Safety will not respond to complaints.
Does the site have a procedure for resolving safety and health issues?
The best way to resolve safety and health issues is for all the parties to agree on a procedure for issue resolution that suits the workplace.
In particular, the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 requires the development of an agreed issue resolution procedure. The aim of the procedure is to ensure safety and health issues are resolved quickly and effectively before they become a dispute.
The default procedure set out in regulation 2.5 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 must be followed if there isn’t an agreed procedure.
Refer to r. 2.5 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995.
What happens if the issue is not resolved?
Safety and health representatives must refer unresolved issues to their safety and health committee, where one exists. This means that, in some circumstances, committees may need to meet urgently. When developing an issue resolution procedure, consider the need for this flexibility.
Where attempts to resolve an issue in accordance with the procedure are unsuccessful, and there is a risk of imminent and serious injury to or imminent and serious harm to the health of any person:
- the manager of the mine
- any employer or employee involved
- a safety and health representative
may notify the district inspector for the region in which the mine is situated regarding the unresolved issue.
Refer to ss. 70(3) and 71 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994.
What if the issue is still not resolved after escalating it on site?
Under the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994, a person may enquire with a mines inspector about occupational safety and health conditions at their workplace. So, where the above methods have failed, there is the option to contact Resources Safety.
Refer to s. 24 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994.
The mines inspector may ask what actions have already been taken to have the matter resolved in the workplace before he or she takes the issue further. They may also provide information on other ways to resolve the matter in the workplace.
Please refer to the related information below.
The following presentations covering topics related to communication and consultation can be downloaded to use at toolbox meetings.