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Last updated February 2024

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 $26,516 for an individual or $133,159 for a business. In Victoria, penalties are up to 180 penalty units for an individual ($34,616) or 900 penalty units ($173,079) for a business.
Tip: You may also have consultation obligations under a modern award or enterprise agreement to consult workers about workplace changes 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.