A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must establish a health and safety committee (HSC) within two months of being requested to do so by a health and safety representative (HSR), or five or more workers. A PCBU can also establish an HSC if they decide that one is necessary.
At least half of an HSC must be comprised of workers, including HSRs if they choose to be included. The rest is comprised of representatives of the PCBU, such as senior managers, supervisors, personnel officers and the like.
An HSC must meet at least every three months, or when requested by at least half the members.
What is the role of a HSC?
The role of HSCs is to provide a forum for consultation on the management of health and safety across the whole workforce (ie not just one work group). HSCs should:
- facilitate cooperation between the PCBU and the workers in instigating, developing and carrying out measures designed to ensure the health and safety of workers
- assist in developing standards, rules and procedures relating to WHS.
In a workplace that does not have HSRs, the HSC may (with the agreement of the PCBU) consider the issues that would normally be dealt with by an HSR.
When must a PCBU establish a health and safety committee?
Under section 75 of the model WHS Act, a PCBU must establish a HSC if:
- five or more workers request one be established
- the HSR requests one be established
- required to do so by the regulations.
How often must a health and safety committee meet?
A HSC must meet once every three months or at a reasonable time requested by half of the members of the committee (section 78 of the model WHS Act).
Can a health and safety committee be made up of all workers or supervisors?
Half the members of the committee must be workers who are not nominated by the PCBU (section 76 of the model WHS Act).
If there are two or more HSRs at the workplace, the HSRs may select one or more HSRs to be members of the Committee.