Worker participation – some changes

In September 2023, Health and Safety2 MinutesBy Tracey MurphyOctober 9, 2023

One of the fundamental pillars of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is worker participation, ensuring workers have a voice in the workplace for their – and others’ – health and safety. There are now some changes to be aware of.

Worker participation is considered in two forms. The first is engagement. Engagement requires workers to be given health and safety information about a matter promptly and that workers can be involved in the decision-making processes of the business as far as they relate to that matter.

The second is more formal and requires the PCBU to have practices that allow a reasonable opportunity for workers to participate. Previously, there have been differences in the way the PCBU manages this, depending on the industry or level of risk a PCBU operates in, and the number of employees the PCBU has.

In June this year, the Health and Safety at Work (Health and Safety Representatives and Committees) Amendment Act was passed into law.

The changes increase workers’ access to health and safety representatives and safety committees.

All businesses must now initiate an election if a worker asks for a health and safety representative. The process for this has not changed and is likely to be outlined in your health and safety manual.

The second change is that a business must establish a health and safety committee if a health and safety representative or five or more workers request one.

Note that businesses are not required to establish health and safety representatives or safety committees unless requested by a worker.