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 acceptable. 

There are issue resolution requirements in Health and Safety legislation that outlines how a health and safety issue should 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. If after reasonable efforts the issue cannot be resolved, then it can be referred to the regulator (WorkSafe) by completing the ‘Request Assistance to Resolve a Work Health and Safety Matter’ form available on their website. 

The following details need to be taken into account when assessing the severity (risk level) of the issue, and from there deciding who needs to be involved:

  • The potential consequence (severity) and the 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, must be implemented to resolve the issue.
  • Who will be responsible for implementing the resolution measures? 
  • Who will be responsible for checking that the resolution measures have resolved the issue? 


What is an agreed Health and Safety Issue Resolution procedure and should I have one? 

An agreed H&S Issue Resolution Procedure is a process or steps for resolving health and safety issues in the workplace which has been agreed upon by directors / management / workers. 

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

  • An outline or process for steps to resolve issues.
  • Relates to health and safety issues 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 applicable).
  • Is documented in writing. 
  • Is communicated to all workers affected by those procedures. 

It is recommended to have a procedure in place in the event of an issue arising, or the steps provided in legislation can be followed. 


How to resolve an issue

Once the relevant people have been made aware of the details of the issue and the level of risk has been assessed, health and safety regulations set out the default procedure for resolving it.


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

Multiple people can be involved in the issue resolution process, depending on the risk of the issue, 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 are involved, or potentially impacted by the issue.  
  • Where at least one worker in a workgroup is affected by the issue, their Health and Safety Representative (HSR), or Health and Safety Committee (HSC), where applicable.
  • Where at least one worker who is not in a workgroup 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 should happen after an issue has been resolved?

When the issue has been resolved, details of the issue and the resolution should be set out in a written agreement. 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 0800 555 339.

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