Safety regulators take the view that effective participation of employees and the representation of their interests in Occupational Health and Safety are crucial elements in improving workplace morale and safety standards.
The Victorian OHS Act (section 35&36) requires employers to consult with employees so far as reasonably practicable, on OHS matters and an exchange of information and ideas about risks to health and safety or change in the workplace. In addition, employees are encouraged to be represented in relation to health and safety issues. This representation may include, Health and Safety Representatives or Committee Members. Therefore, these people must be given time and the opportunity to consult and provide feedback to the designed workgroups they represent.
Consultation should not be viewed just as a legal requirement, as it is a valuable means of both resolving safety issues and improving productivity within a safe environment. Employees are more likely to be engaged and supportive of arrangements if given the opportunity to express their ideas and views in the decision-making process.
Communicating information is the transmission from one person to another of a message which is understood by the receiver as the sender intended. Consultation however is often awkward, far from smooth and never static.
Sender ------------------ Message ------------------ Recipient
The Model Work Health and Safety Regulations adopted in some other states outline person/s must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the information and instruction is provided in a way that is readily understandable by any person to whom it is provided, as some people have different levels of experience and background knowledge on any given topic. If the sender is not aware of what level of knowledge the receiver has, communication will be unsuccessful. For example; Asking an employee to read a Technical Manual or completing an Induction doesn't necessary mean they will understand the information.
Use of jargon or terms that are unfamiliar can also hinder the message. Asking questions is an invaluable aid to both ascertaining the level of understanding and collecting information to assist with meaningful consultation.
Everyone in the consultation process is entitled to a point of view and to express their opinion. People value their life experiences and wish to contribute their ideas. It is important to understand and acknowledge rather than attack or disregard their comments. It could be damaging to dismiss their contribution, which may stem the flow of further communication.
It should be recognised that management have the overall responsibility to make decisions for the benefit and welfare of the entire organisation. Their respective actions and decisions are their legal duty of care.
HAZCON conducts various Health and Safety training sessions that can assist various duty holders with identifying and managing consultation, co-operation and co-ordination challenges.
We are universally recognised as the leading provider of Health, Safety and Environmental Services and Training. Our consultants have been working in the safety and construction industry for many years that can communicate the information in a user-friendly way, which has been proven and tested.
If you require any further information relating to, Health and Safety training sessions then please contact HAZCON on 1800 429 266 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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