The Model Code of Practice: work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination are set to be strengthened with the upcoming changes to WHS legislation introduced due to the Boland Review. These changes will include streamlining the Health and Safety Representative (HSR) election process for small business and providing HSRs with their choice of training provider.

You will no doubt recall BHP making headlines last year for failing to consult with workers on its proposed mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The Full Bench of the FWC held employees were not given a reasonable opportunity to express their views and to raise work health and/or safety issues or to contribute to the decision-making process relating to BHP’s decision to introduce the vaccination requirement. Further, it held that little, if any, information was provided to employees about the risk assessment that was undertaken, unions and health and safety representatives were not involved in consultation in any meaningful way and established mechanisms such as health and safety committee meetings were not used.

The Full Bench then went on to outline what consultation should entail, including that consultation should:

  1. occur prior to decision making
  2. involve the provision of all relevant information such as the reasons, rationale and data supporting a proposal (such as a risk assessment)
  3. involve Health and Safety Representative and or Health and Safety Committee members where these are in place
  4. be genuine where workers can express their views and have them taken into account before a final decision is made and
  5. ensure that workers involved in a consultation process are advised of the outcome in a timely manner.

Need ideas and information on how to set up consultation for your workplace?

Business 360 has a fact sheet available on “WHS Consultation” with a summary of the key requirements for consultation. Call us 1300 287 360 or email for a copy to get your workplace consultation obligations on track. If you prefer a confidential discussion with one of our directors, scan or click below to book a time to discuss your needs.