Resolving Health and Safety issues on-site

Health and safety issues arise from a worker raising concern about health and safety at the workplace and that concern remains unresolved after consultation with the worker/s and the PCBU/Employer, it then becomes a health and safety issue

For example, an issue could include a difference in opinion on whether something is a potential risk to health and safety or whether a particular control measure is suitable. .

There are issue resolution requirements in Health and Safety legislation across Australia which outline how a health and safety issue can be resolved, with the aim to agree on how to fix the problem as soon as possible to avoid further dispute or a similar future issue. 

PCBUs/Employers are to agree on the issue resolution procedure with their workers. If this does not occur, the default procedure for issue resolution under the relevant State/ Territory WHS Regulations must then be followed. 


Who is involved in resolving a work health and safety issue? 

Multiple people will be involved in the issue resolution process to ensure adequate consultation and the best outcome occurs. This means it could be: 

  • the PCBU/Employer with whom the issue has been raised or their representative (e.g. Supervisor)  
  • any other PCBU (e.g. Contractors, trades) or their representatives who is involved in or potentially impacted by the issue  
  • where at least one worker in a work group is affected by the issue, their Health and Safety Representative (HSR) (if there is one)
  • where at least one worker who is not in a work group is affected by the issue, the worker(s) or their representative. 


How to involve representatives in the issue resolution process?

If you or your worker would like to involve representatives in the issue resolution process you are able to do so. A representative does not necessarily need to have health and safety expertise. This could include people such as a designer of a piece of equipment at the workplace, or a person with workplace consultation and negotiation skills. Depending on the nature of the H&S issue, advice or assistance from a range of experts may be required to reach an appropriate and informed resolution between the involved parties.

 Things to remember: 

  • At any stage in the resolution of an issue, a party may nominate a person or organisation to represent or support them while resolving the issue (a ‘representative’). 
  • Where a party invites a representative to participate in the process, they should notify the other parties of their involvement in a timely manner, especially if their representative is authorised to act on their behalf.


What is an agreed Health and Safety Issue Resolution procedure? 

It’s an agreed process or steps for resolving health and safety issues in the workplace.

You can establish an agreed procedure for a workplace. To do this, make sure the procedure:

  • Outlines a process or steps for resolving issues
  • Relates to health and safety issues only and is not a procedure for other purposes, such as a grievance or complaint procedure.
  • Is agreed to, meaning that there has been genuine consultation and agreement between the PCBU/Employer and workers (including HSRS where in place)
  • Is documented in writing 
  • Is communicated to all workers affected by those procedures. 
  • Include the requirements set out in your State/Territory Legislation.


What is a default Health and Safety Issue Resolution procedure? 

The various State/ Territory Regulations set out the default procedure for issue resolution.

The default procedure provides for any party to the issue to commence the procedure by informing the other parties involved that there is an issue to be resolved and the details of the issue. 

In attempting to resolve the issue, the default procedure requires the parties to have consider and review relevant matters, including: 

  • The potential consequence (severity) and likelihood of the risk to workers or other persons 
  • the number and location of workers and other persons affected by the issue 
  • the measures, both temporary and permanent, that must be implemented to resolve the issue  
  • who will be responsible for implementing the resolution measures. 


What should happen after an issue has been resolved?

If the issue is resolved, details of the issue and the resolution must be set out in a written agreement, if any party to the issue requests this. If a written agreement is prepared: 

  •  all parties to the issue must be satisfied that it accurately reflects the resolution 
  •  the agreement must be provided to all people involved with the issue


Need Help? 

If you’ve got a question about Health and Safety issue resolution or any other health and safety matter, the HazardCo Advisory Team is here to help. Give us a call on 1800 954 702.

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