For everyone Consulting for safety

Consultation is a word that many who work in education are familiar with. The certified agreements for all education sectors require consultation around the implementation of industrial rights. Where industrial consultation breaks down, or is not implemented properly, certified agreements usually provide for a grievance or dispute process to resolve the issues. 

Consultation under the OH&S Act is quite a bit different. The OH&S Act has very specific requirements for employers to consult around matters involving health and safety and potential breaches of the OH&S Act can be investigated by WorkSafe. 

Under the OH&S Act, an employer is required to consult with HSRs when they are identifying hazards or risks in the workplace and when they are determining how they will manage them. Consultation is also required when they are proposing changes that are likely to impact the health and safety of the staff. 

In an education setting, this could mean casting an OH&S lens over proposed changes to a teaching timetable, a policy around parent communication or a change to out of school activities. It could mean that the health and wellbeing impacts of excessive workload are considered before new initiatives are adopted. It also means that a HSR should be involved when determining a response to an incident (eduSafe) report. 

But consultation is more than just a legal requirement. It’s a great basis for delivering the safest possible workplaces for everyone – employers included. Positive and open communication about the hazards in workplaces, be they physical or psychological, always lead to the safest possible outcomes. Checking in with those who might be impacted by a hazard on how best to remedy it, before anyone is injured, will often produce outcomes that might not be seen by those removed from the actual work. 

Elected HSRs are trained on effective consultation – both its legal standing and its benefits for workplace culture. Having an elected and trained HSR in your workplace – be it a school, TAFE, early childhood, or disability centre – is a great way to ensure the safest possible workplace and work toward positive communication. 

Does your workplace have an elected HSR? If you don’t have one and would like to talk about how to elect one, get in touch with me – [email protected] or 0425 848 036. Are you an elected HSR and not yet trained? Every elected HSR is entitled under the OH&S Act to attend training. Check out the AEU website for information on dates and times for training.

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