Consultation With Employees
Every commercial organisation is required to establish a forum where health and safety issues can be discussed with their employees. These can vary from "toolbox" talks to full meetings between management and employee representatives. There are two different regulations that require this to happen legally namely:
- The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (as amended); and
- The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 (as amended).
Generally speaking these regulations provide requirements to ensure that organisations communicate with their staff on health and safety issues on a routine basis both up the management chain and down to the members of staff to ensure that everyone that could be affected by workplace hazards understands how they should be managed and how to communicate where hazards are not being controlled. The general items that should be consulted on with your employees are as follows:
- Changes in policies, procedures or processes.
- Arrangements for assistance by competent people.
- Hazards, risks and their control measures including policies, procedures and safe working practices.
- Planning of health and safety training.
- Consequences arising from the introduction of new equipment, technology and processes.
To be effective, consultation needs to take place on changes that will affect them and happen at a stage that offers employees a chance to prepare a response and offer meaningful dialogue. Simply deciding on changes then telling employees what they are would not be considered consultation.
Methods of Consultation
The way that the communication occurs usually is dependent on the size of the organisation, the number of staff employed and the number of locations that the organisation operates in. So, for example, in a small single site location with 5-15 employees, formal quarterly meetings on health and safety would be unlikely. A simple instruction to staff to raise concerns about health and safety to the manager or owner of the organisation and ad-hoc meetings on health and safety when changes are required would suffice. Larger organisations will likely need a mixture of items to ensure that proper communication and consultation is in place such as the following:
- Health and safety representatives appointed (for the employees, preferably in a variety of roles).
- Formal health and safety meetings arranged on an annual, 6-monthly or quarterly basis with minutes taken and senior managers and health and safety representatives present.
- Regular bulletins, emails, or notices provided to employees to inform on changes or additional health and safety controls.
- A method of staff being able to raise health and safety concern or complaints (this should ideally be anonymous).
- Regular team meetings that have health and safety as a standing topic to give an avenue of staff to discuss issues or raise points whilst altogether.
These are not the only ways in which good consultation with employees can be achieved but they are the most typical. By and large, provided that the following elements occur, then you should be meeting your duties as an organisation:
- Every employee has been made aware of the arrangements in place to bring health and safety issues to the attention of the owner/manager.
- Suitable arrangements are in place to allow information regarding health and safety to be exchanged with employees at set intervals.
- All new employees have been inducted by the applicable manager soon after starting work and the health and safety rules pertinent to the premises are explained.
Golf Club Application
Golf clubs are no different to the above guidance and it is important that all activities at the office, bar, kitchen, pro shop and greenkeeping are covered and that staff within these areas all reach the above standard. Generally, in golf clubs the managers in each of these areas would be tasked with communicating the health and safety information to the employees in their areas and the managers. They would then in turn speak to the committee and the Club Secretary for further assistance or to escalate a health and safety related concern or issue that has been identified by a member of staff.
Questions to Consider
- Is there a clear chain of communication between management, employees and third parties?
- Are these parties consulted prior to a decision being made?
- Are there routine meetings that occur that include health and safety as a standing topic?
The above guidance provides an introduction on the main requirements needed to adequately manage this health and safety topic. If you require further guidance, risk assessments or template documentation on this subject please consult your relevant full guidance health and safety website (BIGGA, England Golf, Scottish Golf, Wales Golf). If you do not hold the log in details for this website, for your club, please speak to your golf club management team to identify who the account administrator is and request the details.