What is a Joint Health & Safety
What is a joint health and safety committee?
In the Canadian legislation, occupational health and safety committees are
mentioned under slightly varying names. We have used the name joint health and
safety committee to reflect its composition. The committee may also be known as
the industrial health and safety committee, joint work site health and safety
committee, occupational health committee, workplace safety and health committee,
or health and safety committee.
A joint health and safety committee (JHSC) is a forum for bringing the internal
responsibility system into practice. The committee consists of labour and
management representatives who meet on a regular basis to deal with health and
safety issues. The advantage of a joint committee is that the in-depth practical
knowledge of specific tasks (labour) is brought together with the larger overview of
company policies, and procedures (management). Another significant benefit is the
enhancement of cooperation among all parts of the work force toward solving health
and safety problems. In smaller companies with fewer than a specified number of
employees, a health and safety representative is generally required. Consult health
and safety legislation applicable to your workplace for details.
Who is responsible for establishing a joint health and safety committee?
Employers are responsible for establishing workplace health and safety committees.
Most Canadian health and safety legislation set guidelines for organizing the
committee, the structure of the committee, meeting frequency, and the roles and
responsibilities of committee members.
Employers establish terms of reference applicable to the formation, structure and
functioning of the committee. Such terms of reference must ensure:
compliance with the OHS legislation
effectiveness of the committee in meeting workplace specific needs
widest possible employee involvement
What does a joint health and safety committee do?
Activities of the JHSC include:
participate in development and implementation of programs to protect the
employees safety and health,
deal with employee complaints and suggestions concerning safety and
ensure the maintenance and monitoring of injury and work hazard records,
monitor and follow-up hazard reports and recommend action,
set up and promote programs to improve employee training and education,
participate in all safety and health inquiries and investigations,
consult with professional and technical experts,
participate in resolving workplace refusals and work stoppages,
make recommendations to management for accident prevention and safety
program activities, and
monitor effectiveness of safety programs and procedures.
Is a committee or a representative required by law?
A Joint Health and Safety Committee or the appointment of representatives is either
mandatory or subject to ministerial decision in all Canadian jurisdictions. Certain
types of workplaces may be exempt from this requirement, depending on the size of
work force, industry, accident record, or some combination of these factors. Consult
the most up-to-date applicable legislation to find out what are requirements for your
When are health and safety committees required, how many people are on
the committee, and who are committee members?
Table One provides brief information about the committees: when they are
necessary, size and representation. This summary is intended to provide basic facts.
Please consult the legislation applicable to your workplace for exact information.
Legislation Requirements for Health and Safety Committees
When do I need one? Size of Representation
Canada Mandatory - 20 or more employees At least 2 At least half to
British Columbia Mandatory - when there are 20 or Not less than 4 At least one half must
more employees or when "required be worker
by order" representatives
Alberta As directed by the Minister At least 3 and not At least two employees
more than 12 and one employer or or
at least half employees
Saskatchewan Mandatory - when 10 employees or At least 2 and not At least half to
more more than 12 represent employees
Manitoba Mandatory - 20 or more employees At least 4 and not At least half to
as designated by Lt Governor more than 12 represent employees
Ontario Mandatory - 20 or more employees, At least 2 (fewer At least half to
or when ordered by Minister, or than 50 represent employees
where a designated substance is in employees); At
use (no minimum number of least 4 (50 or
employees) more employees
Quebec 20 or more employees and where At least 4 At least half to
required by CSST* represent employees
New Brunswick Mandatory - 20 or more employees As agreed upon by Equal Representation
Nova Scotia Mandatory - 20 or more employees As agreed upon by At least half to
employees and represent employees
Prince Edward Island Mandatory - 20 or more employees As agreed upon by At least half to
employees and represent employees
Newfoundland Discretionary - 10 or more At least 2 and not At least half to
employees more than 12 represent employees
Yukon Mandatory - 20 or more employees At least 4 and not At least half to
more than 12 represent employees
Northwest Territories As directed by Chief Safety Officer Not Specified Equal Representation
Joint Health & Safety Committee -
How are members on the committee selected?
Health and safety committee consists of worker (employee) and management
members. Health and safety legislation specifies how the members on the
committee are to be selected. Consult the legislation applicable to your workplace.
Generally, the management members are selected by the management (employer).
The worker members are selected by employees or by the union (if there is one).
Note: In Canada the name of the health and safety committee varies from one
jurisdiction to another (see table below). In the following sections we will refer to
them as "Joint Health and Safety Committee".
Jurisdiction Title of Health and Safety Committee
Canada: Federal Workplace health and safety committee
Joint work site health and safety
British Columbia Joint health and safety committee
Manitoba Workplace safety and health committee
New Brunswick Joint health and safety committee
Occupational health and safety committee
Joint work site health and safety
Joint occupational health and safety
Joint work site health and safety
Ontario Joint health and safety committee
Joint occupational health and safety
Prince Edward Island
Quebec Health and safety committees
Saskatchewan Occupational health committee
Yukon Joint health and safety committee
What is the ratio of management to labour members on the committee?
The laws typically state that there should not be more management members on
the committee than labour members.
How do I know if the members on the committee are representative of the
The legislation or collective agreement may specify a minimum and/or maximum
number of members usually dependent on the number of workers at the site. Too
few workers may mean that all segments of the work force are not represented,
while too many members may make the committee hard to manage, resulting in
more debate and less action. In deciding the ideal committee size, consider:
total number of workers
number of different trades or unions involved
complexity of the operation
degree of hazard in work
whether all segments of work force are represented (management,
supervisors, male workers, female workers, office staff)
whether the committee encompasses adequate knowledge of conditions,
Are members trained or certified in health and safety?
Members should be adequately trained in health and safety in order for them to
contribute fully to all committee activities. In some jurisdictions, safety training or
certification is required by law for employer and worker members. Items in such
training should include:
occupational health and safety law
principles of accident causation
job safety analysis
methods of raising safety awareness
effective oral communication
Health and Safety Committee: Training Requirements
Health and Safety Committee Training Reference to OHS
Canada, "ensure that members of policy and work place Canada Labour Code,
Federal committees and health and safety Part II (R.S.C. 1985,
representatives receive the prescribed c. L-Z) Section 125
British "Each member of a joint committee is entitled Workers
Columbia to an annual educational leave totalling 8 Compensation Act
hours, or a longer period if prescribed by (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.
regulation, for the purposes of attending 492) Section 135 (1)
occupational health and safety training courses
conducted by or with the approval of the
Alberta " establish and maintain educational programs Occupational Health
regarding the health and safety of workers at And Safety Act
or on the work site, and carry out those duties (R.S.A. 2000, c. 0-2)
and functions provided for by the adopted Section 31 (l) (c), (d)
Saskatchewan ".. an employer shall ensure that the Occupational Health
representative receives training respecting the and Safety
duties and functions of a representative. " Regulations, 1996
(R.R.S., c. O-1, r. 1)
" .. an employer or contractor shall ensure that Section 46 (1, 2)
the co-chairpersons of the committee receive
training respecting the duties and functions of
Manitoba "every employer, ... shall allow each member Workplace Safety
of the committee, the safety and health And Health Act
representative, or their respective designates, (R.S.M. 1987, c.
to take educational leave each year for the W210) Section 44 (1)
number of hours the worker normally works
during two normal working days... "
Ontario "Unless otherwise prescribed, a constructor or Occupational Health
employer shall ensure that at least one And Safety Act
member of the committee representing the (R.S.O. 1990, c.0.1)
constructor or employer and at least one Section 9 (12)
member representing workers are certified
Quebec "to participate in training programmes of such Act respecting
content and duration as are approved by the occupational health
Commission. Registration, travel and And safety (R.S.Q., c.
accommodation expenses are borne by the S-2.1) Section 91
Commission, in accordance with the
New Brunswick "The employer at a place of employment, in Occupational Health
consultation with members of the committee at And Safety Act
the place of employment, shall grant to the (A.N.B. 1983,
committee members the necessary leave to be c.0-0.2) Section 14
trained in the duties and responsibilities of a (11)
Nova Scotia "An employee who is a member of a committee Occupational Health
is entitled to such time off from work as is And Safety Act
necessary to attend meetings of the (S.N.S. 1996, c.7)
committee, to take any training prescribed by Section 30 (6)
the regulations and to carry out the employee's
functions as a member of the committee, and
such time off is deemed to be work time for
which the employee shall be paid by the
employer at the applicable rate."
Prince Edward "A worker who is a member of a committee is Occupational Health
Island entitled to take the necessary time off from and Safety Act
work to attend meetings of the committee, to (S.P.E.I. 2004, c.42)
take training prescribed by the regulations and Section 25 (10)
to carry out the worker's functions as a
member of the committee".
Newfoundland "Where 50 or more workers are employed at a Occupational Health
and Labrador workplace, the employer shall provide and pay and Safety Act
for training for the members of the (R.S.N.L. 1990, c.
occupational health and safety committee at O-3) Section 38.1 (1,
the workplace." 2)
Yukon "Where 10 to 49 workers are employed at a Occupational Health
workplace, the employer shall provide and pay And Safety Act
for training for the co-chairpersons of the (R.S.Y. 2002, c. 159)
occupational health and safety committee at Section 14
Northwest "The employer shall orientate joint health and Safety Act
Territories safety committee co-chairs and health and (R.S.N.W.T. 1988, c.
safety representatives to their functions and S-1) Section 21 (a)
duties within 90 days of their selection and
shall permit them to participate in a training
course offered or designated by the director as
soon as such a course is available to them after
their selection. Time spent by the employees in
the orientation and the course shall be deemed
to be regular working hours."
Nunavut "The Board (Workers' Compensation Board) Safety Act
may: (a) develop and promote safety (R.S.N.W.T. 1988, c.
education programs..." S-1) Section 21 (a, b)
"The Board (Workers' Compensation Board)
may: (a) develop and promote safety
Do members have to have relevant work experience and/or training?
Priority might be given to workers with varied work backgrounds and to those
involved in the hazardous and complex operations. Workers with long service in the
industry will usually have greater appreciation of the overall work carried out and its
associated safety problems, and they should therefore be able to contribute more to
health and safety committee activities. On the other hand, selection of individuals
who have developed bad work habits and tendency to resist change might be
The joint health and safety committee members may be required to conduct regular
inspections of the workplace. People who have undertaken special safety training
are particularly qualified (i.e. "certified") to recognize workplace hazards.
Staff with safety-related duties, such as the fire marshal, plant nurse, or industrial
hygienist might serve as resource people to help with matters specific to their
How long does one person serve on the JHSC?
In some Canadian jurisdictions, the "term of office" is specified. Where it is not
specified, the term of office should be specified in the terms of reference for your
committee. The term of office should strike a balance between a short term where
a large number of people are introduced to the JHSC and safety and too long when
enthusiasm may fade. No matter how long the term is, a staggered rotation is
suggested so that new members come in while others continue such that no more
than one half of the committee is "new" at any given time.
Canada Labour Code Part II (14) Subject to subsections 134.1(7) and 135(10)
and any regulations made under subsection
135.2(1), a committee shall establish its own
rules of procedure in respect of the terms of
office, not exceeding two years, of its members
and the time, place and frequency of regular
meetings of the committee and may establish any
rules of procedure for its operation that it
Section 135.2 Regulations135.2 (1) The Governor
in Council may make regulations
(a) specifying the qualifications and terms of
office of members of a committee;
(b) specifying the time and place of regular
meetings of a committee;
(c) specifying the method of selecting employee
members of a committee if employees are not
represented by a trade union;
(d) specifying the method of selecting the
chairpersons of a committee and their terms of
Section 136 Appointment of health and safety
136. (1) Every employer shall, for each work
place controlled by the employer at which fewer
than twenty employees are normally employed or
for which an employer is not required to establish
a work place committee, appoint the person
selected in accordance with subsection (2) as the
health and safety representative for that work
(11) The Governor in Council may make
regulations specifying (a) the qualifications and
term of office of a health and safety
Alberta 198. (1) Members of a joint work site health and
Occupational Health and Safety safety committee hold office for a term of not less
Code than 1 year and may continue to hold office until
their successors are elected or appointed.
(2) Members of a joint work site health and safety
committee may be reelected or re-appointed for
BC 131. (1) Subject to this Part and the regulations, a
Workers Compensation Act joint committee must establish its own rules of
procedure, including rules respecting how it is to
perform its duties and functions.
Manitoba Part III Formation of Safety & Health Committees
Code of Practice for Workplace Section 7 Term of Office
Safety and Health Committees: A The term of office of Committee members shall
Guide to Organization, Functions normally be one year. Members are eligible for
and Procedures re-election. Vacancies shall be filled in accordance
with section 6. Each member shall hold office until
his successor is selected.
Newfoundland and Labrador No specific reference to length of office/renewal of
Occupational Health and Safety Act term
New Brunswick No specific reference to length of office/renewal of
Northwest Territories No specific reference to length of office/renewal of
Nova Scotia (7) A committee shall establish its own rules of
Occupational Health and Safety Act procedure and shall adhere to the applicable
(9) The rules of procedure established pursuant to
subsection (7) shall include an annual
determination of the method of selecting the
person or persons who shall
(a) chair the committee; and
(b) hold the position of chair for the coming year.
(10) Where agreement is not reached on
(a) the size of the committee;
(b) the designation of employees to be members;
(c) rules of procedure,
Nunavut No specific reference to length of office/renewal of
Ontario A term of at least one year is recommended.
Guide for Joint Health and Safety Where there is more than one worker member
Committees (JHSCs) and and one employer member, terms should be
Representatives in the Workplace staggered to allow continuity. Vacancies should
be filled as quickly as possible.
PEI Section 25 Joint occupational health and safety
Occupational Health and Safety Act committee(12) A committee shall establish its
own rules of procedure.
Quebec Section 29
Act Respecting Occupational Health 29. The workers' and employer's representatives
and Safety on a committee shall perform their duties as long
the employer, the certified association or the
group of workers not represented by the certified
association that appointed them remains
authorized to do so and as long as they have not
been replaced by the latter.
SaskatchewanOccupational Health 39. (1) An employer or contractor who is required
and Safety Regulations to establish a committee shall:
(a) in designating the members:
(i) select persons to represent the employer or
contractor on the committee; and
(ii) ensure that there is a sufficient number of
members representing workers on the committee
to equitably represent groups of workers who
have substantially different occupational health
and safety concerns; and
(b) designate members for a term not exceeding
(2) Members of a committee hold office until a
successor is designated, and may be
re-designated for a second or subsequent term.
Yukon No specific reference to length of office/renewal of
What is the safety coordinator's role with the JHSC?
The functions of the safety coordinator and the health and safety committee are
closely intertwined, and their relationship must be clearly defined to prevent
misunderstanding and conflict. It would seem logical that the safety coordinator
should attend every committee meeting, but his/her role at these meetings may be
that of resource person, advisor, or guest. Whatever that role is, the committee
should not be controlled (or seen as controlled) by the safety coordinator.
Can there be more than one committee at a workplace?
Depending on the number of workers, complexity of operations, or different
locations, it may be appropriate to have more than one committee. In very large
organizations, a tiered system of committees with a hierarchical reporting
arrangement may be in place. The Policy Health and Safety Committee in the
Federal jurisdiction plays this role. This structure has the advantage of assuring full
representation without too many members on a single committee.
Are members compensated for time spent on health and safety committee
A committee member is entitled to take time off from his/her regular work duties in
order to carry out committee related responsibilities. In some jurisdictions, this is a
legislated right and includes time allocation to prepare for the meeting, the meeting
itself, and any related activities (such as workplace inspections). With shiftwork,
this provision is especially important to ensure full attendance at meetings and that
all committee tasks are carried out.
Can the employer take discriminatory action against a committee
Reprisals against a health and safety committee member is against the law. An
employer, any person acting on behalf of the employer, or any union cannot take
discriminatory action against any worker because that person participates in the
functions of the committee.
Is there a need to post and maintain records/documents of the meetings?
Minutes of all health and safety committee meetings are required. Some
jurisdictions may require the use of specific forms. Some may require that the
minutes be forwarded directly to the jurisdiction while others state the records must
be made available when a government official requests them. Regardless, keeping
a good record of the activities and discussions of the joint health and safety
committee is necessary to help ensure that each concern and resolution is
Minutes of meetings are generally circulated to all committee members after
approval by both health and safety committee co-chairpersons. One copy should be
posted in a prominent place in the workplace and the original kept with the records
of the committee. It is recommended that the minutes be circulated to committee
members and posted within a week from the meeting.
OH&S Legislation in Canada –
What occupational health and safety agency covers my workplace?
There are fourteen jurisdictions in Canada - one federal, ten provincial and three
territorial each having its own occupational health and safety legislation. For most
people in Canada, the agency that you would contact is the provincial or territorial
agency in the area where you work. There are some exceptions to this. Federal
legislation covers employees of the federal government and Crown agencies and
corporations across Canada.
Where can I find out about my duties in Canadian legislation?
Occupational health and safety (OH&S) legislation in Canada outlines the general
rights and responsibilities of the employer, the supervisor and the worker. Each of
the ten provinces, three territories and the federal government has its own OH&S
There is special "right-to-know" legislation that applies to hazardous products. It
actually comprises several pieces of legislation collectively called WHMIS - the
Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. It is a comprehensive plan for
providing information on hazardous materials intended for use in workplaces.
WHMIS applies in all Canadian workplaces which are covered by occupational health
and safety legislation and where WHMIS-controlled products are used.
Who is covered under the jurisdiction of the federal government in
The federal health and safety legislation is commonly referred to as Canada Labour
Code Part II and regulations. The Canada Labour Code also applies to employees of
companies or sectors that operate across provincial or international borders. These
exploration and development of petroleum on lands subject to federal
ferries, tunnels and bridges;
grain elevators licensed by the Canadian Grain Commission, and certain feed
mills and feed warehouses, flour mills and grain seed cleaning plants;
radio and television broadcasting and cable systems;
shipping and shipping services; and
telephone and telegraph systems.
Approximately 10% of the Canadian workforce falls under the OH&S jurisdiction of
the federal government. The remaining 90% of Canadian workers fall under the
legislation of the province or territory where they work.
Who is covered by provincial and territorial jurisdictions?
In each province or territory, there is an act (typically called the Occupational Health
and Safety Act or something similar) which applies to most workplaces in that
region. The Act usually applies to all workplaces except private homes where work
is done by the owner, occupant, or servants. Generally, it does not apply to farming
operations unless made to do so by a specific regulation. The legislation should be
consulted to find out who is or is not covered.
At the provincial and territorial level, the name of the government department
responsible for OH&S varies with each jurisdiction. Usually it is called a ministry or
department of labour. In some jurisdictions, it is a workers' compensation board or
commission that has the responsibility for occupational health and safety. Each
provincial or territorial department is responsible for the administration and
enforcement of its occupational health and safety act and regulations.
OH&S Legislation in Canada - Internal
What is the Internal Responsibility System?
The internal responsibility system puts in place an employee-employer partnership
in ensuring safe and disease free workplace. A health and safety committee is a joint
forum for employers and employees working together to improve workplace health
How does the Internal Responsibility System work?
The internal responsibility system is the underlying philosophy of the occupational
health and safety legislation in all Canadian jurisdictions. Its foundation is that
everyone in the workplace - both employees and employers - is responsible for his
or her own safety and for the safety of co-workers. Acts and regulations do not
always impose or prescribe the specific steps to take for compliance. Instead, it
holds employers responsible for determining such steps to ensure health and safety
of all employees.
Internal responsibility system does the following:
Establishes responsibility sharing systems
Promotes safety culture
Promotes best practice
Helps develop self reliance
Please see the OSH Answers document "OH&S Legislation in Canada - Basic
Responsibilities" for more information.
These general provisions give employers the "freedom" to carry out measures and
control procedures that are appropriate for their individual workplaces. On the other
hand, the challenge for the employers is to know when they have fulfilled all
appropriate regulatory requirements. More information about this "challenge" is in
the "Due Diligence" OSH Answers document.
OH&S Legislation in Canada - Basic
Are there any similarities in OH&S legislation across Canada?
Many basic elements (e.g., rights and responsibilities of workers, responsibilities of
employers, supervisors, etc.) are similar in all the jurisdictions across Canada.
However, the details of the OH&S legislation and how the laws are enforced vary
from one jurisdiction to another. In addition, provisions in the regulations may be
"mandatory", "discretionary" or "as directed by the Minister".
What are general responsibilities of governments?
General responsibilities of governments for occupational health and safety include:
enforcement of occupational health and safety legislation
dissemination of information
promotion of training, education and research
resolution of OH&S disputes.
What are the employees rights and responsibilities?
Employees responsibilities include the following:
responsibility to work in compliance with OH&S acts and regulations
responsibility to use personal protective equipment and clothing as directed
by the employer
responsibility to report workplace hazards and dangers
responsibility to work in a manner as required by the employer and use the
prescribed safety equipment.
Employees have the following three basic rights:
right to refuse unsafe work
right to participate in the workplace health and safety activities through Joint
Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or as a worker health and safety
right to know, or the right to be informed about, actual and potential dangers
in the workplace
What are the manager or supervisor's responsibilities?
As a manager or supervisor, he or she:
must ensure that workers use prescribed protective equipment devices
must advise workers of potential and actual hazards
must take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances for the
protection of workers.
Managers and supervisors act on behalf of the employer, and hence have the
responsibility to meet the duties of the employer as specified in the Act.
What are the employer's responsibilities?
An employer must:
establish and maintain a joint health and safety committee, or cause workers
to select at least one health and safety representative
take every reasonable precaution to ensure the workplace is safe
train employees about any potential hazards and in how to safely use,
handle, store and dispose of hazardous substances and how to handle
supply personal protective equipment and ensure workers know how to use
the equipment safely and properly
immediately report all critical injuries to the government department
responsible for OH&S
appoint a competent supervisor who sets the standards for performance,
and who ensures safe working conditions are always observed.
What does legislation say about forming health and safety committees?
Generally, legislation in different jurisdictions across Canada state that health and
safety committees or joint health and safety committees:
must be composed of one-half management and at least one-half labour
must meet regularly - some jurisdictions require committee meetings at
least once every three months while others require monthly meetings
must be co-chaired by one management chairperson and worker
employee representatives are elected or selected by the workers or their
More details about these committees are in the Health & Safety Committees Section
on this site.
What is the role of health and safety committee?
The role of health and safety committees or joint health and safety committees
act as an advisory body
identify hazards and obtain information about them
recommend corrective actions
assist in resolving work refusal cases
participate in accident investigations and workplace inspections
make recommendations to the management regarding actions required to
resolve health and safety concerns.
What happens when there is a refusal for unsafe work?
An employee can refuse work if he/she believes that the situation is unsafe to either
himself/herself or his/her co-workers. When a worker believes that a work refusal
should be initiated, then
the employee must report to his/her supervisor that he/she is refusing to
work and state why he/she believes the situation is unsafe
the employee, supervisor, and a JHSC member or employee representative
the employee returns to work if the problem is resolved with mutual
if the problem is not resolved, a government health and safety inspector is
inspector investigates and gives decision in writing.
How is legislation enforced?
The legislation holds employers responsible to protect employee health and safety.
Enforcement is carried out by inspectors from the government department
responsible for health and safety in each jurisdiction. In some serious cases,
charges may also be laid by police or crown attorneys under Section 217.1 of the
Canada Criminal Code (also known as "Bill C-45"). This section imposes a legal duty
on employers and those who direct work to take reasonable measures to protect
employees and public safety. If this duty is "wantonly" or recklessly disregarded and
bodily harm or death results, an organization or individual could be charged with
Where can I get more information about responsibilities?
If you have specific concerns about what regulations require employers and workers
to do, you should consult local authorities in your jurisdiction. This is especially true
if your questions deal with the content, interpretation, compliance and enforcement
of the legislation, and how it applies in your own workplace situation.
We have provided referrals in the section on OH&S agencies responsible for
occupational health and safety. Local offices are usually listed in telephone directory
"Blue Pages" or under separate federal and provincial government headings in other
OH&S Legislation in Canada - Due
What is meant by due diligence?
Due diligence is the level of judgement, care, prudence, determination, and activity
that a person would reasonably be expected to do under particular circumstances.
Applied to occupational health and safety, due diligence means that employers shall
take all reasonable precautions, under the particular circumstances, to prevent
injuries or accidents in the workplace. This duty also applies to situations that are
not addressed elsewhere in the occupational health and safety legislation.
To exercise due diligence, an employer must implement a plan to identify possible
workplace hazards and carry out the appropriate corrective action to prevent
accidents or injuries arising from these hazards.
Why does due diligence have special significance?
"Due diligence" is important as a legal defense for a person charged under
occupational health and safety legislation. If charged, a defendant may be found not
guilty if he or she can prove that due diligence was exercised. In other words, the
defendant must be able to prove that all precautions, reasonable under the
circumstances, were taken to protect the health and safety of workers.
How does an employer establish a due diligence program?
The conditions for establishing due diligence include several criteria:
The employer must have in place written OH&S policies, practices, and
procedures. These policies, etc. would demonstrate and document that the
employer carried out workplace safety audits, identified hazardous practices and
hazardous conditions and made necessary changes to correct these conditions,
and provided employees with information to enable them to work safely.
The employer must provide the appropriate training and education to the
employees so that they understand and carry out their work according to the
established polices, practices, and procedures.
The employer must train the supervisors to ensure they are competent
persons, as defined in legislation.
The employer must monitor the workplace and ensure that employees are
following the policies, practices and procedures. Written documentation of
progressive disciplining for breaches of safety rules is considered due diligence.
There are obviously many requirements for the employer but workers also
have responsibilities. They have a duty to take reasonable care to ensure the
safety of themselves and their coworkers - this includes following safe work
practices and complying with regulations.
The employer should have an accident investigation and reporting system in
place. Employees should be encouraged to report "near misses" and these should
be investigated also. Incorporating information from these investigations into
revised, improved policies, practices and procedures will also establish the
employer is practicing due diligence.
The employer should document, in writing, all of the above steps: this will
give the employer a history of how the company's occupational health and safety
program has progressed over time. Second, it will provide up-to-date
documentation that can be used as a defense to charges in case an accident
occurs despite an employer's due diligence efforts.
All of the elements of a "due diligence program" must be in effect before any
accident or injury occurs. If employers have questions about due diligence, they
should seek legal advice for their jurisdiction to ensure that all appropriate due
diligence requirements are in place.
Due diligence is demonstrated by your actions before an event occurs, not after.
More information on how to establish these programs is available through OSH
Establishing an OSH Program
Guide to Writing an OHS Policy Statement
Job Hazard Analysis
What are areas to consider when reviewing due diligence?
When reviewing your due diligence program, it may help to ask yourself the
1. Can a reasonable person predict or foresee something going wrong?
2. Is there an opportunity to prevent the injury or incident?
3. Who is the responsible for preventing the incident or incident?
What is an example of a due diligence checklist?
Do you know and understand your safety and health responsibilities?
Do you have definite procedures in place to identify and control hazards?
Have you integrated safety into all aspects of your work?
Do you set objectives for safety and health just as you do for quality,
production, and sales?
Have you committed appropriate resources to safety and health?
Have you explained safety and health responsibilities to all employees and
made sure that they understand it?
Have employees been trained to work safely and use proper protective
Is there a hazard reporting procedure in place that encourages employees
to report all unsafe conditions and unsafe practices to their supervisors?
Are managers, supervisors, and workers held accountable for safety and
health just as they are held accountable for quality?
Is safety a factor when acquiring new equipment or changing a process?
Do you keep records of your program activities and improvements?
Do you keep records of the training each employee has received?
Do your records show that you take disciplinary action when an employee
violates safety procedures?
Do you review your OSH program at least once a year and make
improvements as needed?