Occupational Health Committees & Representatives

Occupational Health Committees & Representatives

Occupational Health Committees… do I have one established at my organization?  Do I need one?  What are their roles and responsibilities?  These are all very important questions and very common ones.  Recent statistics show that within the WCB rate codes of S21, S22 & S23, contraventions surrounding training of representatives and committee members and the establishment of committees falls within the top 5 of all contraventions.

None of us want contraventions and more importantly we want to make sure our Safety Management Systems are running smoothly and efficiently so let’s take a look at answering some of these questions for you.

First of all, the whole question of ‘Do I need to establish an Occupational Health Committee in my organization’?  This question can be answered by looking at the Saskatchewan Employment Act 3-22.  In summary, it states that at a place of employment where there are 10 or more workers of one employer then an occupational health committee must be established.  You not only need a committee to be established but there are some rules to follow about how many and who should be a part of the committee.  The committee must consist of at least two and no more than 12 people with at least half of it being represented by workers other than management.  The worker representatives must be elected by the persons they will be representing or in accordance with the constitution or bylaws of the union of which the workers are members.

If you have fewer than 10 workers at a place of employment, then the employer shall designate a person as the Occupational Health and Safety Representative for those workers.  (Saskatchewan Employment Act 3-24) This representative is only required at prescribed places of business listed in Table 7 of the OH&S Regulations.

Now that covers whether you need to establish a committee so let’s look at once they are established, what do they do?  What are their roles and responsibilities?  Whether it is a committee or a representative that is needed training is a huge requirement. In the case of having a representative, the employer needs to ensure that the representative received training respecting their duties and functions as that representative.  In the case of a committee, the employer or contractor needs to ensure that the co-chairpersons of the committee receive training respecting the duties and functions of a committee.  This training, surrounding occupational health and safety, seminars or courses of instruction, when requested by the committee member or representative must be granted when reasonable notice of the request has been made up to 5 days per year.  This training must also be credited as time at work and are not made to lose any pay or benefits for this time.  (OHS Reg 46)

As mentioned previously, the committee itself is made up of a group of people holding different roles.  At least half is made up of worker representatives and the other half of management representatives.  There are two co-chairpersons with one being a worker representative elected by his/her fellow worker committee members at the first meeting.  The other co-chairperson is a representative of management and is appointed by the employer.  Each co-chairperson is responsible for reporting back to groups they represent.

There are many responsibilities the committee chairpersons and members have.  Some of these responsibilities are to attend meetings, address worker concerns, participate in incident investigations, review health and safety policies and procedures, be included in orientation and training programs and much more!  Its imperative as a committee member or representative that you understand your roles and responsibilities and that’s why training is a requirement from legislation.

If you are unsure of what your roles or responsibilities are or if you as an employer wants to make sure your committee or representative has the full legislated required training along with training on how your committee can be more proactive, call us!  SHSA offers in-person training with one of our Safety Advisors that fills all the requirements and more!  Call us now and ask about our ‘Your Safety Committee & the Law’ training course which is workshop based and full of engaging group discussions, hands on activities and everything you need to know surrounding Occupational Health and Safety Committees tailored for the WCB rate codes of S21, S22 & S23.  Please visit our website www.servicehospitality.com for a complete course listing along with detailed course summaries.

 

Sources:  Saskatchewan Employment Act & OHS Regulations 1996. 

                   SHSA “Your Safety Committee & the Law” training course

 

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