Safety committees

Health and safety committees allow businesses (and other PCBUs) to work together with workers on health and safety matters.

A health and safety committee can be a good option if you have a significant number of workers who may be reluctant to take on the role of a health and safety representative (HSR), but some would be willing to participate on a committee.

A committee may also be effective if you have a large business and need to consult on matters that are the same across a number of work groups or workplaces.

The main functions of the health and safety committee are to:

  • facilitate co-operation in instigating, developing and carrying out measures to improve the health and safety of workers
  • assist in developing health and safety standards, rules and procedures

Establish a committee

A health and safety committee can be established on your own initiative or at the request of:

  • a HSR, or
  • five or more workers at the workplace

You have two months to establish a committee if requested to do so.

A committee can also be established for workers who carry out work at one or more locations or for those who do not have a fixed place of work.

The constitution of the health and safety committee may be agreed to between the business (or other PCBU), HSR and workers at the workplace. If agreement is not reached within a reasonable time, any party may ask us to appoint an inspector to decide the matter.

Committee membership

The make-up of the committee can be agreed to between the workers and the employer or business (or other PCBU). The PCBU can only nominate up to half of the members. The role of workers on HSCs is to ensure genuine worker representation in health and safety matters that affect them.

A HSR is to be a member of the committee, if they consent. If there are two or more HSRs at a workplace, then they can choose one or more who consent to be members of the committee.

Operation of a committee

The committee must meet at least every three months and at any reasonable time requested by at least half the members of the committee.

To make the consultation effective, members must be provided with:

  • reasonable time to attend meetings and carry out their functions as a committee member, and be paid at their normal rate of pay when doing so
  • access to information about hazards and risks at the workplace as well as information relating to the health and safety of workers at the workplace (excluding workers' personal or medical information without the workers' consent)

Coal and mine committees

There are special provisions for health and safety committees in coal and mine workplaces.

A coal workplace must have any site check inspector and electrical check inspector for that workplace as members of any health and safety committee.

A mine workplace must include a site check inspector for that workplace as a member of any health and safety committee.