Health and safety committees play a crucial role in preventing work-related injuries and diseases. Having a committee ensures that your employees know what health and safety issues exist in the workplace and what they should do in case of any accidents.
A health and safety committee consists of both worker and employer representatives and its purpose is to improve occupational health and safety conditions. Whether your business requires a health and safety committee depends on the size of your workforce. To ensure the committee operates effectively and achieves its goals, members must complete assigned training and assessments.
As an employer, it is important that you understand whether you need a Joint Health and Safety Committee and how it can protect your business from health and safety issues.
What does a health and safety committee do?
A health and safety committee (often referred to as a Joint Health and Safety Committee or JHSC), advises employers about potential hazards and risks in the workplace and makes recommendations to mitigate or resolve health and safety issues. Members meet regularly and inspect the workplace to identify and assess hazards.
When is a health and safety committee required?
If your business has more than 20 regularly employed workers, a health and safety committee is required under Canadian federal law. For provincially-regulated businesses, each province has different requirements, as outlined below:
In Ontario, businesses are typically required to have a JHSC if they have 20 or more employees. Employers with more than 5 but less than 20 employees must have a workplace health and safety representative instead.
In Alberta, employers with 20 or more employees must have a committee. Alternatively, employers with five to 19 employees must have a health and safety representative.
In BC, employers with 20 or more employees must have a committee. Alternatively, businesses with more than nine but fewer than 20 employees require a health and safety representative.
In Manitoba, employers with 20 or more employees must have a Workplace Safety & Health Committee (WSHC). Alternatively, businesses with more than four but fewer than 20 employees require a worker representative.
In Saskatchewan, businesses with 10 or more employees must have an Occupational Health Committee (OHC), while employers with fewer than 10 workers must have an occupational health and safety representative.
In New Brunswick, employers with 20 or more employees require a JHSC and employers with more than nine but fewer than 20 employees require a health and safety representative.
In Nova Scotia, a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee is required in workplaces with 20 or more employees who work for more than four weeks in a row. A Health and Safety Representative is required in workplaces with 5 or more employees and where no Committee is required.
Newfoundland and Labrador
In Newfoundland and Labrador, where 10 or more workers are employed at a workplace, employers require an Occupational Health and Safety Committee to monitor the health, safety and welfare of the workers employed at the workplace.
What are the duties of a health and safety committee?
Workplace health and safety committees have many duties, including:
- to consider and expeditiously dispose of health and safety complaints;
- to participate in all of the inquiries, investigations, studies and inspections pertaining to employee health and safety;
- to participate in the implementation and monitoring of a program for the provision of personal protective equipment, clothing, devices, or materials, and, if there is no policy committee, participate in the development of the program;
- to participate in the implementation of changes that may affect occupational health and safety, including work processes and procedures, and, if there is no policy committee, participate in the planning of the implementation of those changes; and
- to inspect all or part of the workplace each month, so that every part of the workplace is inspected at least once a year.
What is the selection process for a health and safety committee?
The health and safety comm plays an important role in workplace health and safety. As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring workers understand the selection process and their right to vote. It is also required that all names of committee members must be posted in the workplace.
Half of the health and safety committee consists of non-management workers. Workers select their representatives on the committee by nominating and voting for candidates. The other half of the committee consists of management. Ideal candidates will have extensive knowledge of operations within the business and health and safety concerns. These individuals are chosen by the employer.
Are employers responsible for training members of the health and safety committee?
The committee is an integral part of your employees exercising their right to participate in health and safety matters, and it is vital that members receive the support and training they need.
Members of the Joint Health and Safety Committee are appointed to assess and provide feedback about health and safety in the workplace. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure members are trained according to OHSA requirements and that you assist them in carrying out their responsibilities.
Do you need help setting up a health and safety committee?
Once you’ve recruited your health and safety committee, it is crucial that your staff members have the correct training on how to keep your workplace safe. Helping small businesses cultivate a culture of health and safety is our priority.
Our team can assist you in selecting the right members, guide you through training materials when it comes to setting up a JHSA, and support you with any other HR, workplace health & safety or employment matters that arise. To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 312-6720.