When should the workforce be consulted?
Consultation with workers should be undertaken, so far as is reasonably practicable, when doing one or more of the following:
- entering into discussions about safety and health representatives and the election process
- making decisions about procedures to consult with workers on safety and health matters
- identifying or assessing hazards or risks that may harm people
- undertaking risk assessment and risk management exercises
- making decisions about the prioritisation of issues
- making decisions on how to control risk that may cause harm
- making decisions about the adequacy of facilities for worker welfare
- making decisions about procedures on how to resolve safety and health issues
- determining the membership of safety and health committees
- proposing changes to the workplace, plant or equipment, or the work performed at a workplace that may affect the safety and health of workers.
What makes the consultation process more effective and efficient?
The consultation process need not be difficult. It can be broken down into the key steps described below.
- To better facilitate the consultation process, employers should take time to effectively plan both the consultation and evaluation processes. Planning may include the identification of issues, stakeholders, intend, goals and objectives, and the determination of resources and consultation methods.
- This should be done in line with the aims and methods identified in the planning process. A consultation plan will also be useful in guiding this process.
Response and implementation
- Effective consultation needs to have a free flow of two-way communication between the operator and workers (or worker representatives), and include the provision of feedback.
Monitoring and evaluation
- Ongoing monitoring throughout the consultation will help to ensure it is being conducted according to the aims, objectives and methods outlined in the consultation plan. An evaluation at the end of the process will also help determine the effectiveness of consultation and can be used as lessons for future consultation processes.