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Work site health and safety committees (HSC) and representatives (HS 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
When work is expected to last 90 days or more, an employer must:
- establish an HSC if the employer has 20 or more full or part-time workers in total
- designate an HS representative if the employer has 5 to 19 full or part-time workers in total
HSC and HS representatives requirements are employer-based, not work-site based.
Employers can use an alternate approach to meeting these requirements with approval from an OHS director.
Director’s order rescinding site-based committees (PDF, 72 KB)
- Watch a recorded health and safety committee webinar
- Mandatory health and safety committees and representatives
- Mandatory health and safety committee and representative training
- Participation in health and safety for small business owners and workers
- Worker participation in health and safety
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
- 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
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)
HS representatives are working when they carry out their representative duties and must be paid at their applicable rate of pay.
Health and safety committee
The employer is responsible for establishing a committee.
At work sites where there are more than one employer or self-employed person and:
- a prime contractor is present, the prime contractor is responsible for establishing an HSC
- there is no prime contractor, all employers and self-employed persons must work together to establish a HSC
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-chairs:
- worker co-chair is chosen by worker members
- employer co-chair is chosen by employer members
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 or carrying out duties as a committee member.
- 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.
The employer or prime contractor must provide HSC co-chairs and HS representatives with training about the duties and functions of their role.
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.
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