HOW SMALL BUSINESSES CAN BE WORK, HEALTH AND SAFETY COMPLIANT: PART TWO – EMPLOYEE CONSULTATION IN DEVELOPING HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICIES.

small business safety

Health and safety in the workplace should be a top priority in any company or organisation, regardless of the size. Small business owners or managers need to ensure they develop and implement policies that ensure workers’ protection and good health.

We are running a six part series on how small businesses can be work, health & safety complaint. In part one we, looked at why management commitment is important in the development and prioritisation of workplace health and safety practices.

This week, we look at ways in which you can consult your employees on your WHS practices and the benefits of doing so as this duty is not solely the responsibility of management. It is vital that employees have the opportunity to contribute and be included in the development of health and safety policies.

Importance of Consultation with Workers

Workplace health and safety (WHS) legislation, states business owners or managers must consult, cooperate, and coordinate with workers in identifying and resolving health and safety issues.

This two-way process should be considered when making decisions regarding ways to minimise health and safety risks and modifying rules or implementing changes that may impact the health and safety of your workers.

Through consultation, you and your employees can raise your respective concerns, seek and share information. This way, your employees feel their involvement, and contribution in developing new safety procedures and policies matter to the business.

Furthermore, consultation with other WHS professionals can also prove to be of benefit as they can help gain a better understanding of the risks relevant to your workplace and the means to control them. With their expertise and knowledge, you can also be sure that the measures you apply, are working effectively.

Ways Business Owners and Managers Can Consult with Workers

Form a committee or pick a representative
By establishing a WHS committee, which is made up of managers and employees, it will be easier for the company to develop health and safety standards, processes, and procedures. The committee can help oversee the implementation of the WHS policy system and make sure that everyone complies with it, as well as provide feedback as to what’s working and what’s not. You can also assign a health and safety representative that you can directly talk to first when it comes to your workers’ concerns or queries.

Conduct meetings
WHS meetings with your employees can be a good opportunity to go through reports, talk about recent developments, and plan new measures.  We recommend you schedule and hold regular meetings, so that the management team and your employees stay informed regarding WHS issues and updates.

Hold toolbox talks
Between formal meetings, it’s also a good idea to hold short safety meetings or talks that focus on WHS topics. Through these toolbox talks, your supervisors or department heads can supplement your company’s WHS training efforts and help your employees keep health and safety a priority while working.

Use notice boards, emails, and newsletters
In case you cannot communicate and consult with your employees face to face, you can also use notice boards, emails, newsletters, and other methods of communication.  By using noticeboards, emails and newsletters you can post checklists, posters and general reminders, with the goal of keeping0 your employees well informed on the WHS policies of your business.

Use social media
Nowadays, social media is becoming a powerful communication tool in business settings. This platform is considered a new approach or model that you can utilise to consult with your employees. You can take advantage of social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stimulate social and informal learning and discussion regarding WHS among your management team, employees, and other professionals.

Allow your workers to raise their issues, share their knowledge, and be involved. Through consultation with your employees you will have develop a better, more robust and accurate health and safety policy that is tailored to your business. Make the ideas and contributions of your employees count in promoting health and safety in the workplace.

Stay tuned for the Part 3 of how small businesses can be work, health and safety compliant. We’ll be looking at managing hazards and safe work procedures.