Work site health and safety committees and representatives

Employers are required to have a committee or representative to address health and safety concerns in the workplace as of June 1, 2018.

Overview

Work site health and safety committees and representatives bring supervisors and workers together to discuss and address health and safety related concerns in the workplace.

They allow workers to participate in occupational health and safety and support the three basic rights of workers:

  • the right to know
  • the right to participate
  • the right to refuse dangerous work

Requirements

Employers must have a health and safety committee or representative for projects that are expected to last 90 days or more, or for any other work as designated by an OHS director.

Starting June 1:

  • larger employers (20 or more workers at a work site) must have a joint work site health and safety committee
  • smaller employers (5-19 workers at a work site) must have a health and safety representative
  • employers can use an alternate approach to meeting these requirements with approval from an OHS director

Resources:

Roles and responsibilities

The role of the committee and representative is to advise and assist, not assume managerial responsibilities for health and safety in the workplace.

Committees and representatives help:

  • employers respond to health and safety concerns of workers
  • develop health and safety policies and safe work procedures
  • develop and promote education and training programs
  • participate in work site inspections and investigations
  • investigate worker reports of dangerous work and refusal to work
  • with health and safety orientations for new employees

Employers must:

  • provide adequate resources, time and training to help committees and representatives function effectively
  • hold meetings and carry out duties and functions during normal working hours
  • post the names and contact information of committee members and representatives where it can be seen by all workers

Health and safety representatives

Employers with 5 to 19 workers at a work site must have a health and safety (HS) representative.

The HS representative is chosen by the workers, unless prescribed by a union agreement.

The employer or prime contractor should:

  • meet regularly with their HS representative to discuss health and safety matters
  • work with the HS representative to determine how often meetings should take place and what record is made of the meetings (there are no minimum requirements in the OHS Act)

Resource: Health and safety representatives (PDF, 308 KB)

Health and safety committee

Employers with 20 or more workers at a work site must have a joint health and safety committee (HSC).

Establishing a committee

The employer is responsible for establishing a committee.

  • If a work site has multiple employers or self-employed people, the prime contractor is responsible for establishing an HSC.
  • If there is no prime contractor, all employers and self-employed people must work together to establish a HSC for that work site.

Committee members

The HSC must have at least 4 members, with at least half representing the workers:

  • worker representatives are selected by the workers for a term of not less than one year, unless prescribed by a union agreement
  • employer representatives are assigned by the employer

Each committee must have 2 co-chairpersons:

  • worker co-chair is chosen by worker members
  • employer co-chair is chosen by employer members

Meeting requirements

HSC meetings must adhere to the requirements outlined in the OHS Act to be considered a valid meeting.

  • HSC members must meet within 10 days after being established, and then once every quarter.
  • Health and safety meetings and functions are to be carried out during normal work hours. Employers can’t deduct wages for time spent in HSC meetings.
  • Meeting minutes must be recorded and available for inspection by an HSC member or OHS officer.
  • Meetings must meet quorum in order for the committee to make decisions.

Resource: Joint work site health and safety committees (PDF, 316 KB)

Training requirements

The employer or prime contractor must provide work site health and safety committee members and representatives with training about the duties and functions of their role.

Committee members and representatives shall be permitted to take the greater of 16 hours or the number of hours they would normally work during two shifts, to attend work site health and training programs, seminars or courses of instruction.

Introductory training course

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has developed a free introductory course to help committee co-chairs and representatives learn about their roles and responsibilities.

This course will help employers meet their requirements to ensure committee members and representatives have adequate training.

Participants will receive a two hour credit. A certificate will be issued upon successful completion.

Take the introductory course

Comprehensive training

Comprehensive training for committee members and representatives will be available through approved organizations.

Training criteria and a list of approved providers is under development and will be posted here once it’s available. Please be wary of organizations offering training before the criteria and provider list is available.

Information on how to become an approved trainer will be available soon.

Approvals

To request approval for a variation from OHS requirements for health and safety committees or representatives, please read the guide below and complete the self-evaluation tool.

Contact

To connect with OHS:

Phone: 780-415-8690 (Edmonton)
Toll free: 1-866-415-8690 
TTY: 780-427-9999 (Edmonton)
TTY: 1-800-232-7215

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