This chapter explains your consultation obligations under health and safety legislation, and ways you can meet them.
What are your consultation obligations?
Health and safety legislation in all jurisdictions requires you to consult your workers about matters that are likely to affect their physical and psychological health, safety and welfare.
Important: The Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act) defines the term ‘worker’ much more broadly than the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act). Under the WHS Act, the term ‘worker’ includes contractors.
Caution: A breach of the duty to consult can result in heavy penalties. Under the WHS Act, penalties range up to $28,750 for an individual or $127,050 for a business. In Victoria, penalties are up to 180 penalty units for an individual or 900 penalty units for a business.
Tip: You may also have consultation obligations under a modernaward or enterprise agreement to consult workers about workplacechanges that are likely to significantly affect them. Introducing a new work health and safety (WHS) management system, or new plant and equipment, may constitute such a change.
Benefits of consultation
Consultation not only ensures that you comply with legislation, it also underpins the effectiveness of your safety management system.