When is the right time to establish a Safety Committee?

South Australian Business News  •  Work health and safety  •  Health and safety representative
Cindy Jackway
Thursday, June 6th 2024

The question is often asked when an organisation should establish a WHS Committee, and while legal requirements often dictate when a WHS Committee should be established, it is also a strategic and proactive measure for managing workplace safety. 

Organisations should consider setting up a WHS Committee whenever there is a need to enhance safety communication, address safety concerns comprehensively, or foster a robust safety culture, especially in high-risk or large-scale operations.

The WHS Act advises that if five or more workers at the workplace request the establishment of a WHS Committee or one Health and Safety Representative, then a committee needs to be formed. 

A Terms of Reference is a critical document that underpins the committee, outlining its purpose, structure and operational guidelines. It provides a clear framework for the committee’s activities, ensuring its functions effectively and consistently.

Establishing a WHS Committee is highly beneficial for meeting due diligence requirements under the WHS Act. The WHS Act requires businesses to consult with employees on safety matters. A WHS Committee helps fulfill this requirement by providing a structured forum for consultation.

It ensures that the organisation is adhering to its legal duties, reducing the risk of non-compliance and potential penalties.

A WHS Committee facilitates better communication between workers and management regarding health and safety issues. It encourages collaboration in identifying and addressing safety hazards, fostering a culture of safety within the organisation.

Workers feel more engaged and valued when they have a say in the health and safety decisions affecting their workplace. This empowerment can lead to increased reporting of hazards and incidents, providing valuable data to improve safety.

The establishment of your committee should be made up of a cross section of leadership, management, HSR’s and workers. Training helps committee members understand meeting protocols, decision-making processes, and how to effectively communicate and document discussions and actions. It ensures that the committee understands its specific roles and responsibilities under the WHS Act.

WHS Committees play a critical role in maintaining workplace safety and ensuring compliance with the WHS Act. Undertaking training to understand the roles and responsibilities of committee members, along with ensuring the committee’s effectiveness, is essential for optimizing safety compliance and fostering a safe work environment.

Has your WHS Committee been trained? The SA Business Chamber now has an EOFY 20% off deal on training courses to make sure your team understands their safety responsibilities in the workplace.

 Enquire today Your Safety Committee and WHS — Training Course | The South Australian Business Chamber (sabusi​ness​cham​ber​.com​.au)

Author

Cindy Jackway

Training Manager
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