Roles and Responsibilities of the Joint Health and Safety Committee
Prepared by: Jim Robson, Health and Safety Officer
July 15, 2010 Revised: September 23, 2013
Contents: Certified Members
pp. 9, 10
Composition of Committee
Co-Chair’s Duties and Authority
Duties of Committee
Duties of Employers
Internal Responsibility System
Member’s Duties Defined
Rights of Workers
Role of Committee
Role of Health and Safety Officer
Scope of Authority and Responsibility
Secretary’s Duties Specified
Selection of Committee Members
Size of Committee
p. 10 2
Roles and Responsibilities of the Joint Health and Safety Committee Introduction: This guide is only an explanation of the Joint Health and Safety Committee roles and responsibilities. It is not a legal document. For further information, refer to attached websites, SJU Health and Safety Officer, and/or Associate Vice-President, Operations and Human Resources. OH&S Legislation in Canada - Internal Responsibility System The internal responsibility system puts in place an employee-employer partnership in ensuring a 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. 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 Reference: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/legisl/irs.html#_1_1 The Occupational Health and Safety Act came into force on October 1, 1979. Its purpose is to protect workers against health and safety hazards on the job. Workers and employers must share the responsibility for occupational health and safety. This concept of an internal responsibility system is based on the principle that the workplace parties themselves are in the best position to identify health and safety problems and to develop solutions. Ideally, the internal responsibility system
involves everyone, from the organization’s most senior officer to the worker. How well the system works depends upon whether there is a complete, unbroken chain of responsibility and accountability for health and safety. Several provisions of the Act are aimed at fostering the internal responsibility system. Two important provisions introduced in 1990 are: (1) the requirement for employers to have a health and safety policy and program; and (2) the direct responsibility that officers of a corporation have for health and safety. The joint health and safety committee, or, in smaller workplaces, the health and safety representative, has a role to play by monitoring the internal responsibility system. The Act sets out the basic rules of operation for both joint committees and health and safety representatives. Enforcement If the internal responsibility system fails to address adequately the health and safety issues in a workplace, or if the Act and regulations are not being followed, the Ministry of Labour has the authority to enforce the law. Regulations The Occupational Health and Safety Act, which gives the Government of Ontario broad powers to make regulations, sets out general principles and duties for the workplace parties. The regulations set out in detail how these duties are to be carried out. Many regulations have been passed under the Act. For example, there are four separate safety regulations that apply to industrial establishments, construction sites, mines and health care facilities. There are also regulations for each of 11 different chemicals known as "designated substances". These regulations apply only to workplaces where designated substances are present. Employers, supervisors, owners and constructors, among others, have an obligation to know and comply with the regulations that apply to their workplaces. See Legislation for a complete list of the regulations that have been passed under the Act. Reference: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/ohsa/ohsag_2.php Composition of the SJU Joint Health and Safety Committee The following is a compilation of legislative requirements of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and related resources which pertain to the roles and responsibilities of the Joint Health and Safety Committee at St. Jerome’s University.
In short, they serve to confirm the composition of the committee: two management reps, three worker reps (one of which is drawn from the Faculty), and one student rep, who are full voting members. The Health and Safety Officer attends as a resource person. Additionally, external contractors may be invited to attend meetings. In regards to ‘certification’ and ‘co-chairs’, the workers and management are required, under the Act, to provide a representative co-chair and a representative member who shall be certified. At St. Jerome’s University, the practice is for the cochairs to be selected as per the Act and receive ‘certification’ training which is defined below. See below, also, for training requirements for all members. APPLICABLE LEGISLATION Legislative requirements pertaining to Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) can be found in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) as well as the Revised Regulations for Industrial Establishments (RIE). This table highlights some of the major roles and responsibilities of the JHSC and the employer’s duties related to the JHSC, as well as a brief summary of these sections. SECTION SUMMARY OF THE ACT
7 - RIE Pre-Start Review reports provided to JHSC 9. (1) JHSC application 9. (2) When is a JHSC required 9. (3.2) Designation of non-JHSC worker member to inspect workplace 9. (6-8) Composition of committee 9. (12) Certified members required 9. (18) 9. (18) (a) 9. (18) (b) (c) 9. (18) (d) (e) 9. (18) (f)
Role of the Joint Health and Safety Committee: The committee is an advisory body that helps to stimulate awareness of safety issues, recognizes workplace risks and then deals with these risks. To achieve its goal, the committee holds meetings and conducts regular workplace inspections. The main purpose of the committee is to identify workplace hazards, such as machinery, substances, production processes, working conditions, procedures or 5
anything else that can endanger the health and safety of workers [section 9(18)(a)]. To a large extent, this purpose is met by carrying out inspections of the workplace. Reference: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/ohsa/ohsag_2.php The committee shall review changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and new or revised regulations made under the Act, review and make comment on all University policy, programs and procedures that are directed toward protecting the health and safety of individuals ensuring compliance with the OHSA and the regulations made under this Act, monitor the internal workplace inspection process prescribed by the OHSA, and provision of certified members for investigations, unilateral and bilateral work stoppages. Reference: http://www.sju.ca/healthandsafety/contact.html The Rights of Workers: To balance the employer's general right to direct the work force and control the production process in the workplace, the Act gives four basic rights to workers. 1. The Right to Participate Workers have the right to be part of the process of identifying and resolving workplace health and safety concerns. This right is expressed through worker membership on joint health and safety committees, or through worker health and safety representatives. 2. The Right to Know Workers have the right to know about any potential hazards to which they may be exposed. This means the right to be trained and to have information on machinery, equipment, working conditions, processes and hazardous substances. The parts of the Act that implement the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) play an important role in giving workers the right to know. 3. The Right to Refuse Work Workers have the right to refuse work that they believe is dangerous to either their own health and safety or that of another worker. The Act describes the exact process for refusing dangerous work and the responsibilities of the employer in responding to such a refusal.
4. The Right to Stop Work In certain circumstances, members of a joint health and safety committee who are "certified" have the right to stop work that is dangerous to any worker. The Act sets out these circumstances and how the right to stop work can be exercised. Duties of Employers and Other Persons The Act imposes duties on those who have any degree of control over the workplace, the materials and equipment in the workplace and the direction of the work force. There is a general duty on employers to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers. In addition, the Act and regulations set out many specific responsibilities of the employer. For example, there are duties that specifically relate to toxic substances, hazardous machinery, worker education and personal protective equipment. There is a duty on all officers to ensure that their organizations/institutions comply with the Act and regulations. The duties of workers are generally to work safely, in accordance with the Act and regulations. How large should a joint health and safety committee be? In workplaces with less than 50 workers, the Act requires the committee to have a minimum of two members [section 9(6)(a)]. Where there are 50 or more workers, the committee must have at least four members [section 9(6)(b)]. At least half the members on a committee must represent workers [section 9(7)], with the balance representing management [section 9(9)]. Larger committees in larger workplaces can be required by regulations under the Act [section 70(2)10.]. Whenever possible, committees should represent the health and safety concerns of the entire workplace. For example, if a workplace has a plant, office, laboratory and warehouse, each of these areas should be represented on the committee. How are committee members selected? At least half the committee members must be worker members: non-management employees at the workplace who are selected by the workers. In a unionized workplace, the worker members must be chosen by the trade union or unions representing employees [sections 9(7) and 9(8)]. The employer chooses members as well (employer members) [section 9(9)]. It is recommended that the employer select representatives by giving consideration to 7
their knowledge of operations and to their duties and responsibilities as they relate to work procedures and safety. Training Some committees require at least two members-one representing the employer and one representing workers-to be chosen for special training [section 9(12)]. Among its functions under section 4 of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) sets the standards for training and certifies committee members who complete approved training programs. Certified health and safety committee members play a key role on the committee and have specific authority and responsibilities. Certified members are not required for committees at workplaces that regularly employ less than 20 workers or at projects that regularly employ less than 50 workers [O. Reg. 385/96 as amended by O. Reg. 131/98]. The Ministry of Labour requires completion of Part 1 and 2 training for a representative to be considered ‘certified’. OHSA Subsection 9(12) requires most workplaces with 20 or more workers to have at least one worker and one management person serve as certified members of a workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). This certification involves training in health and safety law, and the identification, assessment and control of hazards. Are members trained or certified in health and safety? In addition to the legislated requirement that at least one worker member and one management member of the JHSC receive certification training, all SJU committee members are to receive training and achieve certification within two scholastic terms of joining the committee. Additionally, ongoing training in health and safety will be encouraged in order for members to contribute fully to all committee activities. Duties of the Committee
Ensure inspections are conducted Identify situations that may be a source of hazard or danger; Review health and safety concerns; Make recommendations for the improvement of health and safety; Obtain information respecting health and safety experience, work practices and standards, the identification of hazards and be consulted on tests for the purpose of occupational health and safety; Recommend the establishment, maintenance and monitoring of programs, measures and procedures respecting health and safety;
Designate worker members to attend a work refusal or a work stoppage, investigate a critical injury or fatality, attend beginning of occupational health and safety testing, if required, and accompany Ministry of Labour inspector investigations and inspections of the workplace; Be bound by confidentiality except where disclosure of information is specifically required by legislation; and Review annually JHSC Guidelines and JHSC OHSA responsibilities.
Reference: http://www.safetyoffice.uwaterloo.ca/hse/committees/jhsc-hsr.html Who carries out workplace inspections? Committee members who represent workers must select someone in their group to inspect the workplace [section 9(23)]. If possible, this person should be a certified member [section 9(24)]. When a real or potential hazard is discovered, it must be reported to the committee [section 9(30)]. The workplace must be inspected at least once a month, unless a different schedule of inspections is ordered by the Ministry of Labour (section 9(26)). In cases where the workplace is too large or where parts are shut down on a seasonal basis, the committee should establish a monthly inspection schedule that ensures the entire workplace will be inspected at least once a year (section 9(27)). Do certified members have added responsibilities? Because certified members receive special training in workplace health and safety, they are given added responsibilities. For example, certified employer and employee representatives can, under certain circumstances, act together and order the employer to stop work that is dangerous to a worker [section 45(4)]. How does the committee or health and safety representative deal with worker complaints? A worker must report any hazard or contravention of the Act to the employer or supervisor [sections 28(1)(c) and 28(1)(d)]. If the matter is not resolved, a worker should then refer it to a member of the committee or to a representative. Generally speaking, all committee members should be available to receive employee concerns, complaints and recommendations; to discuss problems and recommend solutions; and to provide input into existing and proposed health and safety programs. When such matters are referred to a committee member, the member should: * ask a first-line supervisor, plant safety officer or person with designated responsibility in the area to take part in resolving the problem;
* have this request noted at the next committee meeting and recorded in the minutes; and * notify the worker who reported the concern of a decision or recommendation made by the committee. If a worker complaint cannot be resolved, either of the certified members should inform the employer in writing. If the employer is unable to resolve the issue, either the employer or the worker could contact a Ministry of Labour inspector, who will review the situation and render a decision. Are members' duties clearly defined? Duties of committees are defined in the OH&S legislation. Specific duties may vary with the type and size of the organization, industry, number of safety specialist staff in the organization, the firm's accident experience, and the number of committees. Duties common to all committees include: * attending all committee meetings * promoting the health and safety policy and program * assisting the employer in resolving worker health and safety complaints * providing feedback on workers' suggestions * promoting and monitoring compliance with health and safety regulations * attempting to raise health and safety standards above legal requirements * participating in the resolution of work refusals * assisting in the training of new workers * participating in the identification and control of workplace hazards * participating in assessments and the development of control programs for hazardous substances * participating in accident investigations * studying safety programs of other companies to enhance own program * conducting health and safety education programs * making health and safety recommendations * carrying out workplace inspections * advising on personal protective equipment * maintaining records of accidents and injuries * monitoring effectiveness of health and safety program * assisting in the development of organizational health and safety rules * assisting in the development of safe work procedures * initiating other activities as indicated by accident experience Is a list of duties available to each member? When the duties/tasks of health and safety committee members have been specified, they should be produced in written form, posted in the workplace, and a copy issued to each committee member. In this way members can periodically
review their duties. This document may be used as a briefing/training guide for new members, and as an information source for all workers.
Do members understand what their duties are? A list of duties in itself cannot be relied upon to ensure that each committee member understands what is required of him. The list of duties should be discussed, either individually or in committee, and each member's understanding ensured. Do members carry out their duties? A well structured health and safety committee with a clear-cut purpose, and composed of knowledgeable members who are fully aware of their responsibilities, will still be ineffective if the committee does not carry out its duties. There may be other reasons for lack of committee effectiveness, but if the problem is internal to the committee, it should be within its power to rectify it. Generally, most people are dedicated to safety, but constraints may be imposed by conflicts of interest, personality, or pressure of external priorities. These situations should be resolved as soon as they become evident, to enable the committee to concentrate on its prime objective--health and safety. Is the structure and duties reviewed periodically and revised when necessary? The structure of the committee and its duties should be periodically reviewed to see that it is appropriately organized to fulfill its role. Review might be necessary when organizational changes or major physical changes have occurred in the workplace. Since a number of minor changes may take place over time, it may be a good idea to review the responsibilities/duties at set intervals. Scope of Authority and Responsibility Each member must know the scope of his/her authority in dealing with safety matters. The scope of authority should be reviewed with each committee member, and his/her understanding of it confirmed. Following a revision of duties, a review of the health and safety committee's authority should be made to ensure that an appropriate match still exists. Such a review may be necessary when the committee is unable to carry out a specific task due to lack of authority, or when committee members are perceived as regularly exceeding their authority, or acting in a role that exceeds their level of training or expertise. Powers of JHSC members to:
Identify hazards, 11
Make recommendations, Obtain information, and Be consulted about, and present at, any health & safety testing. 9. (19) Worker member present during health & safety testing 9. (20) Written recommendations to employer 9. (22) Minutes of JHSC meetings to be kept 9. (23-29) Workplace inspections 9. (31) JHSC member to investigate critical injury/fatality 9. (32) Posting of names and work locations of JHSC members 9. (33) JHSC meeting frequency 9. (34) Entitlement to time from work 9. (35-36) Entitlement to be paid 25. (2) (e) Employer to assist the JHSC 25. (2) (l) Employer to provide JHSC with report respecting health and safety 36. (2) (b) JHSC to be consulted regarding hazardous material inventory 39. (2) (b) Assessment of hazardous material to be made available to JHSC 42. (2)(3) JHSC to be consulted regarding hazardous material/physical agent worker instruction and training 43. (4) JHSC worker member to attend work refusal 45. (1-9) Bilateral work stoppage 47. (1-7) Unilateral work stoppage 48. (1-2) JHSC certified member to investigate dangerous circumstance 51. (1) Employer to advise JHSC of critical injury/fatality at workplace 54. (3) JHSC worker member to accompany MOL inspector 57. (10) MOL inspector order(s) to be provided to JHSC 62. (5) No person shall interfere with a JHSC or a committee member 63. Confidentiality of certain information 65. Immunity for JHSC members
Confidentiality of Information Joint committee members may from time to time come across confidential information. Therefore, the Act requires committee members to observe some basic rules of confidentiality [section 63]. Except where allowed under this Act, or as required by another law, committee members: * must not disclose any information about any workplace tests or inquiries conducted under the Act or regulations; * must not reveal the name of any person from whom information is received; * must not disclose any secret manufacturing process or trade information; and * may disclose the results of any medical examinations or tests of workers only in a way that does not identify anyone.
Meetings Committee members are required to meet at the workplace at least once every three months. More frequent meetings may be necessary, however, particularly in industries where the work involves hazardous substances or procedures [section 9(33)]. Committee meetings must be co-chaired by two members. One of the co-chairs is chosen by the members who represent workers, the other by members who represent the employer [section 9(11)]. It is good practice to alternate the chairing of each meeting between the two chairs, although the committee may find other, more appropriate procedures. An agenda should be prepared by the co-chairs and distributed one week in advance of the meeting date. Members who wish to have items added to the agenda should give chairpersons ample notice. Meeting dates should be established on a pre-set schedule or at the conclusion of each committee meeting. This date will be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. A copy of the minutes should be distributed to members a few days after the meeting. The dates of upcoming meetings should also be recorded at the top of each agenda. The Committee Recommends The committee has the power to make recommendations to the employer and to the workers on ways to improve workplace health and safety. For example, the committee could recommend that a new type of hearing protection be given to workers in noisy areas, or that safety training programs be established, or that special testing of the work environment be carried out [sections 9(18)(b) and (c)]. The employer must respond to any written recommendations from the committee, in writing, within 21 days. If the employer agrees with the recommendations, the response must include a timetable for implementation. For example, if the employer agrees that a special training program should be established, the response must say when the program will begin to be developed and when it will be delivered. If the employer disagrees with a recommendation, the response must give the reasons for disagreement [sections 9(20) and (21)]. The Committee is Empowered The committee has the power to obtain information from the employer: * about any actual or potential hazards in the workplace [section 9(18)(d)(i)]; * about the health and safety experience and work practices and standards in other workplaces of which the employer is aware [section 9(18)(d)(ii)]; and
* about any workplace testing that is being carried out for occupational health and safety purposes [section 9(18)(e)]. In addition, the committee has the right to be consulted about any workplace testing and to have a committee member representing workers present at the beginning of the testing to validate the procedures and/or the results [section 9(18)(f)]. Reference: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/ohsa/ohsag_2.php Co-Chairperson’s Duties and Authority The committee chairpersons (co-chairs) must assume extra responsibilities. A decision should be made whether these responsibilities are shared all the time or taken in turn. Specific co-chairperson's duties may include: * scheduling meetings, notifying members * preparing an agenda * inviting specialists or resource persons as required * presiding over meeting * guiding meeting as per agenda * ensuring all discussion items end with a positive decision * reviewing and approve the minutes * assigning projects to members * ensuring that the committee carries out its function A list of duties describing the chairperson's responsibilities and authority should be available to all members. Consensus Consensus will be the guiding principle in every debate as members strive to reach practical and feasible solutions that have as their ultimate goal a healthy and safe workplace for all workers. Conflict resolution The co-chairs will endeavour to ensure their respective members work cooperatively at all times, and if necessary will address unacceptable behaviour. At times, however, the committee may face issues that polarize members, such that consensus is impossible to achieve. Outside professionals can be consulted for their input to help resolve the concern. Or a formal recommendation outlining the opposing views of members views can be submitted to the manager to be formally resolved by him/her. His/her written response is final, but can be available for review by the MOL. After the manager gives his/her formal response, the issue should not be debated further within the committee unless the circumstances that 14
started the conflict change significantly. Are the secretary's duties clearly specified? The role of secretary can be filled by a non-member of the JHSC, can rotate among JHSC members on an annual basis, or can be confined to one person for an indefinite period. In addition to taking the minutes of meetings, the secretary’s responsibilities may include compiling the agenda of upcoming JHSC meetings and notifying members of times and locations, circulating minutes, reports and other information to committee members, and noting items from past JHSC meetings that require follow-up. The secretary's additional responsibilities may further include: * keeping pertinent records * reporting on the status of recommendations * preparing the minutes * distributing the minutes after approval * disseminating safety information to members * assisting the co-chairpersons as required Role of the Health and Safety Officer The health and safety officer shall provide the technical and professional support required to facilitate compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, disseminate information and direction for compliance regarding changes to the OHSA and new or revised regulations, facilitate occupational health and safety training, arrange for environmental testing of suspected contaminants as prescribed under the OHSA, and participate in the investigation of unsafe conditions, critical injuries, and the resolution of bilateral and unilateral work stoppages. The Facility Manager is familiar with, complies with, and at all times, promotes the university’s policies and directives related to facility operations and health & safety. The Facility Manager consults regularly with and advises the Associate VicePresident on all physical resource matters which relate to the university or its property. Additionally, as the Health & Safety Officer, the Facility Manager is cognizant of activities that seek to minimize or eliminate hazardous conditions. Responsible for all aspects of the H&S program including compliance with all relevant provincial and federal policies, including but not limited to, the Ontario Building Code, Ontario Fire Code, Occupational Health & Safety Act, and any other applicable policies and procedures put forward by the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Environment.
The Facility Manager works closely with other facility staff including a number of external contractors, University of Waterloo Plant Operations, and other professional engineers, architects and Health and Safety consultants. Conclusion: Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act is built upon the principle that employees and employers must act together to ensure a healthy and safe workplace. An important way in which this goal may be furthered is through the work of the joint health and safety committees. Given the nature of the Internal Responsibility System, the effectiveness of the Health and Safety program at St. Jerome’s University is dependent on the members of the JHSC understanding, fulfilling, and supporting their roles, the roles of other officers, and the mission of the University. References: Employee and Supervisor Safety Orientation, University of Waterloo, 2007. http://www.bnet.com/2403-13059_23-61211.html http://www.ccohs.ca/ http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/ http://www.safetyoffice.uwaterloo.ca/ http://www.safetyoffice.uwaterloo.ca/hse/committees/jhsc-hsr.html http://sju.ca/ http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/legisl/irs.html#_1_1 http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/ohsa/ohsag_2.php www.safetygroups.ca/.../august_6_adv_jhsc_terms_of_reference.pdf http://www.sju.ca/healthandsafety/contact.html Pocket Ontario OH&S Act, 2008.