Consulting with major hazard facility employees

Information for major hazard facility (MHF) operators on their duty to consult.


Who to consult

You must consult with HSRs and employees about all the matters listed below. Employees include:

  • independent contractors
  • employees of independent contactors

If there are no HSRs, you must consult with employees directly.

What to consult about

As an MHF operator, you must consult with HSRs and employees when:

  • identifying major incidents that could happen at the facility, and all major incident hazards
  • conducting and reviewing a safety assessment (also known as a risk assessment)
  • adopting or reviewing risk controls
  • creating and putting in place a safety management system (SMS)
  • preparing or revising a safety case
  • preparing or reviewing safety roles for employees
  • preparing, reviewing, or revising an emergency plan

These duties are in addition to your general consultation duties listed in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act).

Talking to health and safety representatives (HSRs) and employees helps:

  • identify hazards and appropriate risk controls
  • confirm that the safety case reflects what happens at the facility
  • determine whether risk controls are maintainable
  • boost awareness and understanding around managing major incident risks

What is a Safety Case?

A safety case is a document that describes how an MHF operator is safely managing operations and controlling risks at the facility. It's something you must prepare under the OHS Regulations.

How to consult

When consulting with HSRs and employees, you must:

  • share information about the health and safety matter up for consultation
  • give them a reasonable opportunity to share their views
  • take their views into account

It's also recommended that HSRs and employees engage in consultation by:

  • participating in the early planning stages of the safety case or the review
  • giving feedback on the amount, timing, and method of consultation
  • being a part of any steering committee that develops the safety case
  • having a say on hazard identification and risk assessment workshops
  • reviewing the effectiveness of risk controls against safety performance measures
  • checking that systems and procedures reflect what happens at the facility
  • checking that risk controls (such as the emergency plan) are reasonably practicable
  • talking to WorkSafe about health and safety matters

Tips for effective consultation

  • Actively seek employees' views and encourage them to share their ideas.
  • Talk to people with different backgrounds, knowledge, experiences and roles.
  • Allow time for feedback.
  • Listen carefully. Silence doesn't always mean people agree.
  • Be open to all feedback and respond constructively to criticism.
  • Think in advance about how differences in opinion will be resolved.
  • Close the feedback loop by letting everyone know how their views were considered.
  • Test the consultation procedure and make improvements early on. If you need, get an independent opinion on your consultation procedure.
  • Ensure everyone at the facility is aware of major incident hazards and the control measures in place.

Setting up agreed consultation procedures

As an MHF operator, it's recommended that you have an agreed consultation procedure in place. This should make part of your SMS. It can also be included in your safety case.

If you have an agreed consultation procedure, it must be followed.

If your facility is not yet operational

If you are a new or developing facility, speak to WorkSafe about how you plan to meet your consultation duties.

Relevant regulations

This is a list of OHS Regulations relating to an MHF operator's duty to consult. Click on each regulation to reveal a simple summary.

Related Information