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Health and Safety Procedure - Consultation and Communication

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Section 1 - Key Information

Policy Type and Approval Body Administrative – Vice-Chancellor
Accountable Executive – Policy Chief Operating Officer
Responsible Manager – Policy Senior Manager, Health and Safety
Review Date 6 March 2026
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Section 2 - Purpose

(1) This Procedure documents the process on how La Trobe University will consult with staff on Health and Safety matters, and communicate Health and Safety Information.

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Section 3 - Scope

(2) This Procedure applies to:

  1. all staff and members of the University Community (including Council members, volunteers, students, contractors and associates)
  2. all University campuses and research areas.
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Section 4 - Key Decisions

Key Decisions  Role
Forming a designated workshop staff in a work area
Requesting a designated work group election or re-election Designated work group staff
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Section 5 - Policy Statement

(3) This procedure forms part of the Health and Safety Policy suite which governs its application.

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Section 6 - Procedures

Part A - Responsibilities

(4) The Health and Safety (H&S) Team will:

  1. Manage the Health and Safety Consultation and Communication Procedure;
  2. Maintain lists of Designated Work Groups (DWGs) and Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) on the Health and Safety (intranet)site;
  3. Participate in quarterly Consultative Committees;
  4. Manage the quarterly HSR briefings;
  5. Communicate health and safety information with University stakeholders.

(5) Leaders and Managers will:

  1. Consult via meetings with staff on issues that may affect their health and safety
  2. Communicate important Health and Safety information to support a culture of safety
  3. Support HSRs to attend approved training
  4. Confirm sufficient numbers of HSRs are appointed

(6) Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) will:

  1. Participate in Consultative Committees where a position is available;
  2. Participate in quarterly HSR briefings;
  3. Attend site meetings with the visiting Regulator (such as Worksafe VIC) as required; and
  4. Represent their designated work group on health and safety issues.

Part B - Designated Work Groups

(7) The University has established Designated Work Groups (DWGs) which are groups of employees formed on the basis of type of work, number of employees, and the nature of hazards at the workplace.

(8) The Health and Safety (H&S) Team will maintain a list of DWGs on the Health and Safety (intranet) site.

(9) Staff can request a review or propose a change to their current Designated Work Group. The Health and Safety team will work with the Group to develop a satisfactory arrangement, aligned with the established parameters noted above.

Part C - Election Process

(10) The election process for a HSR will commence within 28 days of any of the following occurring:

  1. A HSR resigns
  2. If more than one half of employees within the DWG request an election
  3. A new DWG is established

(11) All fixed-term and continuing employees of La Trobe University are eligible to nominate as a HSR.

(12) When an election is required to take place a nominee of the DWG will call for nominations. 

(13) If only one nomination is received the nominee is deemed to be elected. If more than one nomination is received an election will be held.

(14) The Health and Safety team will manage the election process and advise the successful candidate.  Senior leaders of the DWG such as Deans and Directors will be notified of the election result and will communicate this outcome to staff.

Part D - HSR Term of Office

(15) A HSR for a DWG will hold office for a period of three years. HSRs are eligible to be re-elected once their term has expired. 

(16) A HSR will cease to hold office if:

  1. They cease to be a member of the DWG
  2. They resign as a HSR by giving written notice to the relevant member of the Health and Safety Team
  3. The majority of members of DWG agree in writing that the person should no longer represent the DWG

Part E - Consultation

(17) Leaders and Managers will consult with staff in relation to issues affecting their health and safety including:

  1. Identifying and assessing hazards or risks to health and safety;
  2. Making decisions to control risks to health and safety;
  3. Proposed changes that may affect the health and safety of staff and students.

(18) Staff will be consulted in the following ways:

Type Participants Timeframe
Consultative Committees In accordance with the respective School/Divisional Consultative Committee terms of reference Quarterly
HSR briefings All HSRs, Health and Safety Team Quarterly
Toolbox talks All staff of a division/Contractors As required
Pre-Start meeting All staff of a division/Contractors Daily when working under a Task Safety Analysis*

Part F - Communication

(19) The Health and Safety Team will develop a range of communications on important Health and Safety information.

(20) Leader and Managers will communicate this information to HSRs and staff as appropriate in accordance with the target audience.

(21) Specific modes of communication will include:

Type Target Audience Description Frequency
SEG – OHS Consultative Committee report  Senior Executive Group
OHS Consultative Committee
Overview of incident and hazard report data, safety management plans, prevention projects and workers’ compensation data Quarterly
CGRIASC report Corporate Governance, Risk, Internal Audit and Safety Committee Oversight of hazard and incident reporting data, hazard and risk profile, and workers’ compensation data Quarterly
Health and Safety  dashboards Managers and Leaders Schools/ Divisions, HSRs Analysis of key Health and Safety data, trends and targets Quarterly
Minutes of committee meetings All staff covered by the consultative committee Summary of committee meetings discussion and actions Quarterly
Health and Safety topics All staff and contractors Information on a pertinent topic As required
Alerts Relevant staff and contractors Highlights important safety information about a product or process As required
Lessons learned Relevant staff and contractors  Highlights key learnings resulting from the failure of product or process As required
Health and Safety (intranet) & Staff Communications All staff and contractors Safety information As required

Part G - Training for HSRs

(22) All elected HSRs have the option to attend an initial approved course of training in occupational health and safety, annual refresher HSR training and any training conducted by WorkSafe Victoria.

(23) The HSR and their Supervisor will work together to schedule relevant training. Initial training should commence within three months of the staff member being appointed as a HSR.

(24) The HSR should contact the Health and Safety Team to seek advice on booking suitable training.

Part H - Documentation

(25) The Health and Safety Team will maintain a register of DWGs and HSRs on the Health and Safety (intranet) site.

(26) The School/Division Secretariat will take minutes for all Health and Safety Consultative Committee meetings and distribute to the committee.

(27) The Health and Safety Team will manage all quarterly HSR briefings and provide access to meeting documentation for all staff on the Health and Safety (intranet) site.

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Section 7 - Definitions

(28) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. Designated Work Group (DWG): A group of employees determined on the basis of location; type of work; number of employees, the nature of hazards at the workplace and of overtime or shift working arrangements.
  2. Deputy Health and Safety Representative: A deputy health and safety representative for DWG is elected the same way as a HSR. The deputy HSR will exercise the powers of the HSR when the elected HSR ceases to hold office or is unable because of absence or any other reason to exercise the powers of a HSR.
  3. Health and Safety Committees: Health and Safety Committees bring together a group HSR’s employees and employer representatives to discuss and develop ways to improve health and safety across the school, division or campus.
  4. Health and Safety Representative (HSR): An employee elected by members of a designated work group to be the group’s representative on health and safety issues.
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Section 8 - Authority and Associated Information

(29) This Policy is made under the La Trobe University Act 2009.

(30) Associated information includes:

  1. Health and Safety (intranet)