Health and Safety at work is vital to a happy and healthy workplace. Discussions about health and safety should cover items like mental health, stress, working alone, safety and first aid training, assessing health and safety incidents and many other areas.
Important: WorkSafe WA provides information on compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA). Worksafe WA contacts:
Tel: 1300 307 877
Health and Safety Committee
Setting up a health and safety committee is a good way for employers and employees to work together to make the workplace safer and also to identify and set strategies, policies and procedures for the whole organisation. By having clear guidelines for the committee, regular meetings, identifying issues and finding ways to overcome these issues, workplaces are safer and there is a proactive, collaborative approach to safety in our workplace.
Committee meetings bring together employees’ who have hands-on experience of the job, identify priorities for health and safety issues and also give other employees clarity in terms of who the Health and Safety representative are in the team. They provide a regular forum for collaboratively developing and reviewing health and safety systems and addressing ongoing and emerging concerns.
A health and safety committee doesn’t have to be large, but it must suit the particular needs of your workplace and should represent the interests of all staff groups, management and stakeholders.
Terms of Reference/ Role of the Group
Ensure that the members of the committee understand what their role is and are clear about their responsibilities and what is expected of them by being part of the group. Feel free to use the attached template for setting terms of reference for your working group/committee. Remember to answer questions when setting up your group/committee such as:
- How often the group meets?
- How many members do you need for your working group?
- Who chairs the meetings or do you have a revolving chair?
- Do you need to develop particular policies and procedures for safety areas of concern and how do you communicate this within your organization?
- What kind of incident reporting do you have for Health and Safety Issues? Please see Incident Report Sheets and Incident Report Register templates in the resources section
All members should know how the group fits into the overall approach to health and safety in the workplace. The committee serves as a ‘vehicle’ to voice concerns and the develop and approach with how to deal with matters as they arrive.
One of the most important part of holding formal meetings is record keeping, so ensure that accurate minutes are recorded for each meeting and that someone in your group is allocated this task. You may wish to nominate a group secretary or decide to share the role of minute taker.
With regards to keeping good records make sure to consider the following:
- Minutes are recorded electronically
- All members of the group, receive a copy of the minutes as soon as they are finalised and/or that they are sent to the group members with adequate time before the next meeting for people to read them
- Develop a table of actions on your minutes, so that it is clear what items need actioning and who is responsible for this
- Make sure that you have a clear agenda for each meeting and encourage group members to contribute agenda items prior to the meeting
It is recommended by various work safe bodies including Worksafe WA that your committee should meet a minimum of quarterly, however it is up to each organisation to determine the frequency of their meetings.
Other important items to consider:
- Record all training for staff members at your organisation: First Aid, White Cards, Working at Heights etc and maintain a training register – click here for template
- It is important to record ‘Incidents’ in your organisation – use this form as a starting point but ensure it is right for you
- Maintain an incident register and ensure that if follow up is required, that it is marked on the register – a template is here
Please click on the following links that should be useful. Please note: these documents should be used as a guide only and that you should seek professional advice or contact Worksafe WA for further information, to ensure you are compliant with current regulations (information from these documents has been used in developing this content):
- Preparing for and Running Effective Health and Safety Committee Meetings (note: this is from Worksafe Victoria, but it is still a helpful guide)
Note: This information is general in nature. You should seek expert advice in regards to workplace health and safety that is specific to your circumstances.