Australian summary


Consultation with workers about WHS matters is a requirement of all Australian states/territories and the Commonwealth. This table lists the different requirements of the jurisdictions.
 

Consultation Mechanisms

The Issues Harmonised WHS laws  Vic WA
Is there a legislative provision for health and safety committees? Yes – if requested by 5 or more workers or an HSR Yes Yes – if one employee requests
Are health and safety committees mandatory?
No – only if requested by at least one worker, then elected by a work group
No – if requested, then elected by members of designated work group No – if requested, then elected by employees at workplace
Is there a legislative provision for health and safety representatives? Yes – if requested by at least one worker Yes Yes — a rep must have been employed for at least two years by employer prior to election
Are health and safety representatives mandatory? No – only if requested by at least one worker, then elected by a work group No – if requested, then elected by members of designated work group No – if requested, then elected by employees at workplace
Are secret ballots for health and safety committees and representatives required? Election must be conducted in a manner negotiated by the PCBU and the workers Not specified - if employees cannot agree on conduct of election, WorkSafe can help to resolve the issues Yes
Can both a health and safety committee and an HSR be established at one workplace? Yes – both can be in place at the same time Yes – both function at the same time. Reps may be part of committee Yes – rep(s) must be on committee. Other employees only elected if there are no reps
Can some other agreed consultation mechanism be set up? Yes Yes No
Maximum length of elected term for health and safety committees and representatives Three years for HSRs; not specified for committees No more than three years Two years
Can there be more than one health and safety committee or representative, if workers request it? Yes – for different parts of the business or undertaking Yes – one rep for each designated work group Yes — the number of reps is open to agreement with employer
Do HSRs and committees have an advisory/educational/facilitation/policy role only? Yes – committees; HSRs may issue PINs or direct unsafe work to stop, if they have received the required training Reps have active role as voice of their work group. Committees provide formal structure for discussing, resolving, and monitoring OHS issues
Yes committee
No reps
Is an HSR's role restricted to a particular work group? Yes, generally Yes No – the areas that a rep may exercise functions are determined as part of election
What legislative rules are there about PCBU/worker representation? At least half the committee members must be workers who are not nominated by the PCBU At least half the committee members must be employees At least half the committee must be reps (or if no reps, then elected employees)
Are unions specifically allowed to be involved in election of HSRs or committees? Yes – if requested by workers No No
Legislation source Work Health and Safety Act, Pt 5 Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, Div 4, 5, 6 and 7
Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2017, Pt5.2 (Major hazard facilities); Pt5.3 Div 3 (Mines)
Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, Pt IV
 
[Last updated 18 October 2017]

Although most companies have OHS policies detailing procedures on safety in the workplace, the parties to some agreements wish to have such safety details enshrined in the enterprise agreement, particularly in those industries where the risk of accidents is high. The inclusion of such provisions in enterprise agreements serves as a way of reinforcing their importance and drawing the attention of employers and employees to their existence. Read more

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