Work Health & Safety Committee – Should we have one?

Work Health and Safety laws provide that whilst an employer can establish a WHS Committee at any time at their own initiative, one must be established within 2 months of receiving a request from a relevant Health and Safety Representative (HSR) or when there are five or more workers in your  workplace.

When establishing a committee:-discussions should be held with the employees to determine the make-up of the committee. If the establishment of a committee is due to a request from employees, those employees should be included in these discussions.

Discussions should include:

·        the role and functions of the committee;

·        any particular matters the company or employees would like the committee to attend to;

·        consideration of skillsets that can be included in the committee

As the committee will generally be representing all employees at a workplace, committee members may be considered to represent different departments/locations within the workplace

If the employer has more than one work location, it may be considered to have a committee located at each location or a representative from each location on the committee (if practical)

The employer can nominate no more than half the members of the committee whilst at least half must be chosen by employees.  Note: members nominated by the employer should be those with appropriate authority to make safety decisions

The regularity of meetings – with meetings occurring no less than every three months – but could be more regularly depending on the size and needs of the business.

Whilst it is best practice for the employer and employees to agree on the make-up of the committee, if agreement cannot be reached, the regulator may be asked to appoint an inspector to decide on the matter.  The inspector may decide either the constitution of the committee or that a one should not be established.

When utilised effectively, a WHS Committee can be an asset to an organisation, providing a company with vital ‘on the ground’ information relating to workplace health and safety and assisting in the creation and ongoing review of safety policies and procedures.

For assistance with workplace safety or for any HR matter, please contact us at [email protected] or 1300 720 004.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

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