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 from five or more workers at the workplace.
When establishing a committee the following should occur or be considered:-
- Discussions 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
- 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 ot 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 effective, a WHS Committee can be an asset to an organisation assisting in the creation and ongoing review of safety policies and processes and providing a company with vital ‘on the ground’ information relating to workplace health and safety.
For further information please contact us at [email protected] or 1300 720 004
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