What is joint health and safety committee

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					              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.

                                                  Table 1

                       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

                                                                               represent employees

    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

                                                              employees and


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

        Newfoundland and
                                    Occupational health and safety committee

                                    Joint work site health and safety
        Northwest Territories

                                    Joint occupational health and safety
        Nova Scotia

                                    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,
      processes, practices.

    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:

          committee responsibilities/authority
          occupational health and safety law
          principles of accident causation
          hazard recognition
          job safety analysis
          industrial hygiene
          methods of raising safety awareness
          inspections
          accident investigation
          effective oral communication

            Health and Safety Committee: Training Requirements

                  Health and Safety Committee Training             Reference to OHS
                                Requirement                            Legislation

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
                training."                                        (z.01)

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
                a committee"

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)
                committee member."

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
                the workplace."

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
                 education programs...?"

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.

          Jurisdiction                             Requirement

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
                                 considers advisable.

                                 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
                                     further terms.

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
                                     three years.

                                     (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
    businesses include:

          airports;
          banks;
          canals;
          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;
          highway transport;
          pipelines;
          radio and television broadcasting and cable systems;
          railways;
          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
    Responsibility System
    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
    and safety.

    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
          Ensures compliance

    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
          workplace inspections
          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
      will investigate
          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
criminal negligence.

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
telephone directories.

    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
    Answers, including:

          Establishing an OSH Program
          Emergency Planning
          Hazard Control
          Guide to Writing an OHS Policy Statement
          Inspection Checklists
          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
    following questions:

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?

Yes   No

           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?


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