Are Workplace Health and Safety Committees mandatory under the law?
MIQ has been criticised for its tardiness in establishing Workplace Health and Safety Committees by the unions.
They are not mandatory, but all workplaces must have effective processes for worker participation (reasonable opportunity) for effecting improvement in workplace health and safety. This can be through a Health and Safety Committee or by other means.
What constitutes worker participation will be determined on what is reasonable in the circumstances having regard to the size of the business, number of worksites, distance between worksites, and nature of the risks etc.
So, what are the rules around the establishment of these committees?
An organisation must establish a Health and Safety Committee if requested to do so by a Health and Safety Representative, or by five or more workers.
This is not required if there are less than 20 workers, and the work is not in a high-risk sector or an industry prescribed by regulations.
Where there has been a request to establish a committee, the organisation has two months after getting the request to respond.
It can refuse if there is an existing worker participation process that can satisfy the Act’s requirements. Reasons must be given for any refusal and refusals can be challenged as appropriate.
Failure to comply is an offence under the Act and convictions can follow if there is no process for engagement. The maximum fine for an individual is $20K who does not comply with the law.
All employers need to be aware of these requirements. For a workplace health check BuckettLaw can assist. If a request for a committee is made, BuckettLaw can assist. Contact Us now.