Joint Health and Safety Committees
What is a joint health and safety committee?
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is Ontario’s cornerstone legislation for workplace health and safety. A JHSC is an advisory group required under s.9 of the OHSA that’s made up of management and worker representatives who work together to identify health and safety problems and recommend solutions. It’s a forum for bringing the internal responsibility system into practice.
A joint health and safety committee in Ontario may also be known as a joint worksite health and safety committee, occupational health committee, workplace safety and health committee or occupational health and safety committee. Each of the 14 jurisdictions in Canada (federal, 10 provincial, and three territorial) has its own legislation for workplace health and safety and joint health safety committees.
What does a JHSC do?
Committees have the power to identify and evaluate potential hazards through activities such as workplace inspections and accident investigations, focusing their attention on employee complaints and making recommendations to the employer for the improvement of the health and safety of the workers.
Committee members meet regularly to:
- Discuss health and safety concerns;
- Make recommendations to the employer; and
- Follow-up on progress made.
A workplace is defined as any place in, on or near to where a worker works. A workplace could be a building, a mine, a construction site, an open field, a road, a forest, a vehicle, or even a beach. In determining whether a place is a workplace, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) will consider questions such as: Is the worker being directed to work there?
Committee members are entitled to be paid for any time they are attending meetings, time preparing for committee meetings, doing inspections and doing investigations.
Where is a JHSC required?
The OHSA mandates that all workplaces with greater than twenty employees have a JHSC consisting of at least two members. One worker representative (chosen by the workers or the union) and one employer representative. Both the worker rep and employer rep must receive training and be certified by a Ministry of Labour approved trainer. If a workplace consists of greater than fifty workers the committee must consist of at least four people with at least one certified worker rep and one certified employer rep.
A JHSC is co-chaired by a worker rep selected by the workers and an employer rep. Workers have decision-making powers and play a role in deciding when inspections and quarterly meetings are held.
The construction industry has different requirements for joint committees.
Contacting a JHSC
With regards to workplace safety, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If workers have concerns about a product they are using, feel uncertain about the training they’ve received, or are worried about the condition of a machine or tools that they are using they should contact a member of the JHSC as soon as possible. Under the OHSA workers have the right to know about hazards in their workplace, the right to participate in matters that could affect their health or safety at work, and the right to refuse unsafe work. JHSC member names should be posted on workplace health and safety or union bulletin boards.
How to become a certified JHSC member
Heartzap Safety Training and Equipment delivers trusted and approved CPO health and safety certification in Ontario for JHSCs in all sectors of the economy. Every training participant receives a portable occupational health and safety certificate. Heartzap currently offers in-class, socially-distanced courses while our partner awaits approval to conduct a virtual, distanced learning course.
Training to become JHSC certified is delivered in two parts:
- Part one covers the basic health and safety principles and theories and is delivered over 3 days;
- Part two covers real-life, specific workplace hazards and is delivered over 2 days.
Participants must successfully complete part two of the certification training within six months of completing part one to become a certified member of a JHSC. The two-part system places minimal impacts on productivity (missed workdays are split as opposed to five straight days of training) and aids in learner retention.
Should you have questions about joint health and safety committees in Ontario, feel free to contact us.