Health and Safety Committees - what is their role?

All workplaces should have a joint health and safety committee, established under Section 72 of the 2004 OHS Act. A joint committee is a useful way of establishing a permanent forum for communication between workers and management on health and safety issues.

However, it must be clearly understood by all parties that the role of a joint health and safety committee is to complement the activities of the health and safety representatives, not to replace them. Issues at the designated work group level must be resolved by the relevant OHS rep and the management representative. If the issue cannot be resolved then the processes outlined in Part 2.2  - Issue Resolution Procedures in the 2007 Regulations should be followed. The rep has the right to do a number of things (eg issue a PIN, order a stop-work if there is an immediate risk, etc) if the issue is not resolved.

The Health and Safety Committee is the forum to look at wider workplace issues, such as development of policies, training programs, review of the maintenance schedule, employment of consultants, and so on.

For more details on on the statutory and recommended provisions relating to the establishment, structure, functions and operating procedures of joint health and safety committees, see Health and Safety Committees in the OHS Act section of the website.

We've published "Getting OHS Representation Right: A Workers' Guide to Occupational Health and Safety" Share it with your coworkers or leave a copy next to your union noticeboard. It could save lives!

Last amended July 2022