Worker consultation and involvement
The legal requirements for consultation and involvement of the workforce include:
- providing information
- engaging in consultation with employees, and especially trade unions where they are recognised
Beyond the required legal minimum standard, worker involvement is the full participation of the workforce in the management of health and safety.
At its most effective, full involvement creates a culture where relationships between employers and employees are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving. Employees are involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer.
‘I find it hard to imagine how one could ever put in place an effective workplace health and safety system that did not include real participation and engagement of the workforce.’
Judith Hackitt, HSE Chair
What are you doing?
- How are employees or their representatives consulted and involved in health and safety matters?
- How effective are those mechanisms in relation to the organisation’s size and structure, or the rate of workplace change?
- Are the needs of any vulnerable workers (temporary or agency staff, or those whose first language is not English) appropriately met, including through, for example, the use of interpreters, use of symbols and diagrams rather than written instructions?
- Are employees consulted in good time?
- Do health and safety representatives have sufficient time and access to the facilities they need to carry out their functions?
- Do contractors have an appropriate level of induction and training?
Worker consultation and involvement - what to look for
Use the following examples of effective and ineffective health and safety management to check if you are doing what you need to do on worker consultation and involvement.
|What it looks like when done effectively||What it looks like when done badly or not at all|
Additional factors to consider
Dynamic situations where the working environment changes regularly
- Worker consultation and involvement is fundamental in ensuring risks are effectively managed.
- How do you support the necessary increased emphasis on the workforce to work in a safe manner?
- Smaller businesses tend to have simpler, less formal systems in place such as face-to-face discussions, toolbox talks or periodic meetings on specific issues.
- Do your arrangements allow employees to have a say?
- Larger organisations are likely to require or have some form of formal system of consultation, although informal systems may be present as well.
- There should be effective consultation arrangements, including an appropriate number of health and safety representatives and representatives of employee safety, as well as safety committees and meetings for key issues such as organisational changes.