In Australia, it is a legislative requirement that employees and their representatives are consulted in OHS decision-making.
Also, Hopkins notes that:
One of the recurrent findings of disaster research is that Information was available that something was wrong somewhere within the organisation but was not communicated to relevant decision makers.
Therefore, it is not only a necessary requirement to consult with employees (including supervisors and managers) in setting OHS priorities but an essential, practical strategy for ensuring that the OHS priorities target the real issues and are practical and realistic.
Input of these groups may be through hazard and incident reporting and issue resolution processes, OHS committees, tool box meetings as well as other formal and informal consultation processes.
However, the discussion on the organisational culture in the previous section shows that the effectiveness of such consultation in informing the setting OHS priorities will depend on the organisational culture.
A reporting culture, a just culture and learning culture are essential for obtaining accurate information as a basis for setting priorities for managing OHS. Without a reporting culture, there will be major gaps in the information on which OHS priorities are based.
A reporting culture is not possible without trust; therefore accurate OHS information also requires a just culture.
The setting of OHS priorities is also influenced by a learning culture where an organisation has the willingness and competence to draw the right conclusions from its OHS information system, and the will to implement major reforms when the need is indicated.
Thus, determining relevant, practical and realistic priorities for the management of OHS requires not only consultation with all workplace parties and reference to relevant documentation but, for the information to be valid and reliable, the information must be collected in an environment where people feel safe to report and comment (both formally and informally) on issues and the input must be valued.
For an organisation to be capable of appropriate decision making there must be:
- commitment to an informed and mindful organisational culture;
- awareness of the communication and consultation requirements underpinning such a culture;
- awareness of the legal obligations underpinning due diligence and practicability; and
- objectives, targets and action plans based on clear priorities.
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