Roles in health and safety

Everyone has a role to play with regards to health and safety in the workplace. This specifies around legislative expectations can be found by accessing the particular state or territory in which the organisation operates.

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The employer can be both the organisation itself and the management team. The employer is responsible for providing:

  • A safe and healthy work environment
  • Competent individuals to supervise the business
  • Sufficient numbers of employees to cover the workload
  • Safe working environment inc. Equipment
  • Information and training relating to health and safety
  • Opportunities for employees to participate in health and safety initiatives


Employees have a responsibility with regards to health and safety in the workplace. They are responsible for:

  • Looking after safety of both themselves and others
  • Cooperating with the organisation to ensure a safe workplace
  • Following all rules and safe working practices
  • Participating in health and safety training as and when required
  • Reporting hazards immediately
  • Maintaining and using equipment as intended
  • Using personal protective equipment
  • Not being affected by alcohol or drugs at work

Health and safety representatives

Health and safety representatives serve to represent the health and safety interests of all employees. A health and safety representative will typically:

  • Represent employees with regards to all health and safety matters
  • Follow up on health and safety actions taken by the organisation
  • Investigate health and safety complaints received from employees
  • Investigate potential risks to the health and safety of employees they represent
  • Advise employees on health and safety matters
  • Promote health and safety within the workplace

Consultation via health and safety committee

Participative agreements refer to the way in which management consults with and allows team members to participate in matters relating to health and safety. It is important to note that organisations have a legal obligation to consult with team members in relation to health and safety.

There are many benefits to establishing and maintaining participative agreements including:

  • Improved understanding of issues by both employers and team members
  • Team members increase their knowledge of health and safety in the workplace
  • Increased ownership for health and safety
  • Ensures a co-operative resolution to health and safety issues

shutterstock_380243965 Health and safety committees are a good way to establish and maintain participative arrangements. A Health and Safety Committee involves the meeting of health and safety representatives and managers. The goal of these meetings is to consult on all health and safety matters within the workplace.

Typically a health and safety committee will serve to:

  • Develop and implement measures to secure the health and safety of everyone within the organisation
  • Create standards, policies and procedures that must be adhered to with regards to health and safety.
  • Analyse health and safety issues within the workplace including identified hazards, incidents reported and trends relating to safety data.
  • Make recommendations to improve health and safety within the organisation
  • Assess outcomes of health and safety audit results and inspection reports

The process to follow when resolving issues

Health and safety issues raised during the participative process need to be resolved in order to prevent incidents and demonstrate a commitment to health and safety in the workplace.

Health and Safety issues identified should be dealt with as a priority and any agreed actions followed up within the agreed timeframe. The resolution of the issue will take into account factors including:

  • Whether the issue can be isolated
  • The number and locations of team members affected by the issue
  • Whether appropriate interim measures are possible or desirable
  • The time that may elapse before the issue is permanently corrected
  • Who is responsible for performing and overseeing the removal of the issue

If an issue is not resolved, someone may be injured and this in turn could lead to loss of confidence in the health and safety process.

Inform team members of outcomes

There are many communication methods that may be adopted to feedback to the team with the outcome of discussions and issue resolution. These include but are not limited to:

  • Presentation
  • Meeting
  • Memo
  • Newsletter
  • Informal small group information meeting
  • Intranet
  • Report

When deciding on the most appropriate communication method the following should be taken into account:

  • The groups/individuals current understanding of health and safety
  • The groups/individuals level of involvement in the health and safety matter
  • Likely responses upon hearing about the outcome of discussions and issue resolution
  • The groups/individuals preferred communication method

How to ensure the change health and safety issue is fully understood

About ARA Retail Institute

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