OHS Compliance Legal Briefing: Joint Health + Safety Committees, 101

Although workplace safety committees are found at work sites across the world, Canada is one of the few places where they’re mandatory. Reason: In most industrialized countries, almost all responsibility for workplace health and safety falls on the employer. But Canadian OHS laws are based on the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) theory in which keeping the workplace safe is a shared responsibility among not only employers but also workers, supervisors and other stakeholders. The problem with that theory is that in actual workplaces, employers have just about all of the power and control. The workplace safety committee in which representatives of employers and workers work together to identify and control hazards is the institution that turns the IRS theory into workplace reality. And that’s why OHS laws in every jurisdiction require them.

As safety director, it’s critical that you understand when committees are required, how they’re created, how they function and what they do. And that’s exactly what this briefing explains. Although it should help you no matter where you’re located, you’ll find it especially useful if you have workplaces in more than one province or territory.

Defining Our Terms

While required in all parts of Canada, the workplace safety committee is called different things in different jurisdictions. We’ll use JHSC (short for joint health and safety committee, which is the most commonly used) to refer to committees.

Table 1. What Safety Committees Are Called Across Canada

Jurisdiction Safety Committee Name
FEDERAL Work Place Committee
ALBERTA Joint Work Site Health + Safety Committee
BC Joint Health + Safety Committee
MANITOBA Workplace Safety + Health Committee
NEW BRUNSWICK Joint Health + Safety Committee
NEWFOUNDLAND Occupational Health + Safety Committee
NOVA SCOTIA Joint Occupational Health + Safety Committee
ONTARIO Joint Health + Safety Committee
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND Joint Occupational Health + Safety Committee
QUEBEC Health + Safety Committee
SASKATCHEWAN Occupational Health Committee
NORTHWEST TERRS + NUNAVUT Joint Occupational Health + Safety Committee
YUKON Joint Health + Safety Committee

 

  1. When a JHSC Is Required

Rule of thumb: An employer must establish a JHSC at any workplace where 20 or more workers are regularly employed. For construction sites, the need for a JHSC is determined not by simply the number of workers but also whether the project is expected to last at least 90 days.

Table 2. OHS Rules on Which Workplaces Require a JHSC

JURISD. TRIGGERS(1)
Regular Workplaces Construction Projects
FEDERAL 20 or more regularly employed employees same(2)
ALBERTA 20 or more regularly employed workers + work expected to last at least 90 days same
BC 20 or more regularly* employed workers same
MANITOBA 20 or more regularly employed workers Const.: 20 or more workers employed by prime contractor involved + project expected to require at least 90 days to complete

Seasonal sites: 20 or more regularly employed workers + work expected to last at least 90 days

NEW BRUNS. 20 or more regularly employed employees *Medium projects: 30 to 500 employees expected to last at least 90 days

*Large projects: 501 or more employees regardless of how long project expected to last

 

NL 10 or more workers same
NOVA SCOTIA 20 or more regularly employed workers Const. projects requiring a constructor with 20 or more regularly employed workers regardless of how long project is expected to last(3)
ONTARIO 20 or more regularly employed workers Projects with 20 or more regularly employed workers expected to last at least 3 months(4)
PEI 20 or more regularly employed workers Projects with 20 or more workers regularly employed by a constructor(s) that are expected to last at least 3 months
QUEBEC >20 workers + establishment listed as one requiring JHSC by Schedule 1 of Health & Safety Committees Reg. same
SASK 10 or more workers of a single employer 10 or more workers or self-employed persons working for a contractor at construction site where work expected to last at least 90 days
NWT/NU 20 or more workers expected to work >90 days Same
YUKON 20 or more workers regularly employed at workplace for >1 month same
Note

* “Regularly employed” in BC is “for a period of not less than 1 month” (per Policy item D4-125-1)
(1) The government OHS agency can also require establishment of a JHSC at sites with fewer than 20 workers
(2) The federal Canada Labour Code does not require JHSCs on ships
(3) In Nova Scotia, a JHSC is also required at subsea coal mines with <20 workers designated in the Regs.
(4) In Ontario, workplaces with <20 workers require a JHSC if they’re covered by the Designated Substances Reg.

 

Note that the government OHS agency has the power to order that a JHSC be established at workplaces with fewer than the requisite 20 workers and/or exempting workplaces that have more than 20. It can also make other rules variations, e.g., by letting one JHSC to represent multiple workplaces based on the unique hazards and circumstances of the particular workplace.

  1. Who Creates the JHSC

Rule of thumb: In most cases, the employer is responsible for establishing the JHSC at its workplace. Exception: At construction projects where workers of 2 or more employers work, the JHSC must be established by the employer designated as constructor (aka, primary or general contractor) for the project (which we’ll refer to as the “constructor”).

  1. How the JHSC Is Created

Rule of thumb: The first step is to select the worker and management members and have each group choose one of their number to serve as co-chair. Once the members and co-chairs in place, the JHSC holds its first meeting at which members adopt a document called the Terms of Reference or Rules of Procedure setting out the JHSC’s purpose and operating procedures, including among other things:

  • The JHSC’s goals and functions;
  • The roles, responsibilities and term lengths of individual members and co-chairs;
  • How meetings will be run and how often they’ll be held;
  • Procedures for voting and issuing recommendations;
  • Provisions for keeping “minutes,” i.e., written notes documenting what was addressed during the meeting; and
  • How disagreements will be resolved.
  1. How Many Members the JHSC Must Have

The JHSC must include members representing both workers and management. Specifics vary by jurisdiction.

Table 3. How Many Members Must a JHSC Have?

JURISD. REQUIRED NUMBER OF JHSC MEMBERS UNDER OHS LAWS
FEDERAL At least 2: 1 worker rep + 1 management rep(1)
ALBERTA At least 4: 2 worker reps + 2 management reps(1)
BC At least 4: at least half of which are worker reps” is required by s.127(a) and (c) of the BC Workers Compensation Act
MANITOBA 4 – 12: At least 1/2 of which are worker reps(1)
NEW BRUNS. General: As agreed to as long as workers + management represented equally

Medium const. project (51 to 500 workers): At least:

· 2 employee reps

· 1 constructor rep(1)

· 1 employee + 1 management rep per employer with 6 or more employees at project

Large const. project (>500 workers): At least:

· 2 employee reps

· 1 constructor rep

· 1 employee rep per trade in which employees of 2 or more employers are working in that trade at the project

NL 2 – 12: At least 1/2 of which are worker reps(1)
NS Not specified as long as at least 1/2 are worker reps
ONTARIO At least:

*<50 regularly employed workers: 2—1 worker rep + 1 management rep(1)

*50 or more regularly employed workers: 4—2 worker reps + 2 management reps(1)

PEI Not specified as long as at least 1/2 are worker reps
QUEBEC *Parties decide but at least 1/2 must be worker reps

*If parties can’t decide on number of worker reps, they must use number listed in Reg. based on how many workers are the site

*Employer can pick up to the number of workers’ reps to serve as management reps

SASK 2 – 12: At least 1/2 of which are worker reps
NWT/NU Not specified as long as there are equal numbers of worker reps + management reps(1)
YUKON 4 – 12: At least 1/2 of which are worker reps(1)
Note
(1) The JHSC must have 1 worker co-chair + 1 management co-chair chosen from among membership—in other words, the co-chair is NOT an extra seat

 

  1. How JHSC Members & Co-Chairs Are Selected

Rule of thumb: Workers at the site choose the worker JHSC members following union rules and procedures or via elections if they’re not unionized. Some jurisdictions list detailed rules for selecting worker members when workers at the site are represented by more than one union (or some but not all workers are unionized). In any case, the employer/constructor isn’t allowed to intervene or try to influence the election of worker members. Meanwhile, the employer/constructor picks the JHSC management members. The worker and management members then pick one of their own to serve as a JHSC co-chair.

Table 4. JHSC Member Selection Procedures

JURISD. OHS MEMBER SELECTION REQUIREMENTS
Worker Members/Co-Chairs Management Members/Co-Chairs*
FEDERAL *Union picks workers’ members in consultation with employees

*If no union, employees elect by majority vote

*Workers’ members pick worker co-chair

*Employer picks management members among employees who exercise management functions

*Mgmt. members pick mgmt. co-chair

ALBERTA *Union picks workers’ members

*If no union, workers elect

*Workers’ members must work at site

*Worker members pick worker co-chair

*Employer picks mgmt members

*Mgmt. members pick mgmt. co-chair

BC *Union picks workers’ members

*If no union, workers elect by secret ballot

*Workers’ members pick worker co-chair

*Employer picks mgmt members among employees who exercise mgmt. functions, preferably at site of JHSC

*Mgmt. members pick mgmt. co-chair

MANITOBA *Union picks workers’ members

*If no union, workers elect

*Worker members pick worker co-chair

*Employer picks mgmt members

*Mgmt. members pick mgmt. co-chair

NEW BRUNS. *Workers pick worker members

*Worker members pick worker co-chair

*Employer picks mgmt members

*Mgmt. members pick mgmt. co-chair

NL *Workers’ members elected by workers at site or chosen in accordance with union rules

*Workers’ members pick worker co-chair

*Employer picks mgmt. members

*Mgmt. members pick mgmt. co-chair

NOVA SCOTIA Union or workers pick workers’ members Employer picks management members
ONTARIO *Workers or union pick workers’ members

*Workers’ member must be employed at site

*If >1 certified worker member, workers or union pick which exercises OHS certified member duties on workers’ behalf

*Workers’ members pick worker co-chair

*Employer picks mgmt members among those who exercise mgmt. functions, preferably at site of JHSC

*Employer must ensure at least 1 worker + 1 mgmt. member are certified members

*Mgmt. members pick mgmt. co-chair

PEI Union or workers pick worker members Employer picks mgmt. members
QUEBEC *Union picks worker members

*Regs list rules to follow if >1 union at site

*If no union, workers elect worker members

Employer picks mgmt. members
SASK Union or workers pick worker members Employer picks mgmt. members + ensure worker members are adequate to represent the different OHS interests of all workers at the site
NWT/NU *Workers at site pick worker members

*Worker members pick worker co-chair

*Employer picks mgmt. members

*Mgmt. members pick mgmt. co-chair

YUKON *Workers pick worker members

*Workers also pick one worker member to serve as health + safety representative, i.e., a worker JHSC member given extra powers under the OHS laws

*Worker members pick worker co-chair

*Employer picks mgmt. members

*Mgmt. members pick mgmt. co-chair

* The term “employer” used in the right-hand column includes constructors at construction project sites

 

  1. What JHSC Co-Chairs Do

Rule of thumb: The worker co-chair and management co-chair are the leaders of the JHSC whose responsibilities include:

  • Calling and presiding over JHSC meetings;
  • Creating the meeting agenda;
  • Ensuring the minutes are kept;
  • Preparing meeting reports and recommendations; and
  • Representing the JHSC in inspections, incident investigations and work refusal proceedings.

Quirky JHSC Co-Chair Rules to Be Aware of:

In Ontario and Manitoba, either co-chair can issue recommendations on his/her own if the JHSC can’t agree on the recommendation after making a “good faith” attempt to do so. Co-chairs may not issue recommendations the JHSC rejects or doesn’t consider.

 

  1. How Certified JHSC Members Are Selected

In some jurisdictions, the face of the JHSC isn’t necessarily the co-chairs but a member designated by the worker and management delegates to represent the constituency and/or receive required JHSC training (see Table 8 below):

  • In Ontario, workers and employers must designate a so-called certified JHSC member to receive special training and carry out designated functions; and
  • In Yukon, workers must select one of the JHSC worker members to serve as a “health and safety representative” authorized to do monthly workplace inspections, observe noise, lighting and chemical tests and participate in incident investigations.
  1. How Long JHSC Members Can Serve

Rule of thumb: There are no set rules on how long a JHSC member can or must serve. Exceptions:

  • In Alberta, the term of a JHSC member must be at least one year*;
  • In BC, the term of a JHSC member must be at least 2 years*; and
  • In Manitoba, a JHSC membership term is 2 years and members can be re-elected*;
  • In Sask, the term of a JHSC member can be up to 3 years and the member can be re-elected.
  1. What the JHSC Does

Core JHSC functions under OHS laws include:

  • Participating in workplace hazard identification and assessment;
  • Consulting in the development and review of required OHS programs and policies;
  • Helping to create worker training and education programs;
  • Holding and documenting regular and special meetings;
  • Recommending health and safety measures to the employer/constructor;
  • Helping to resolve worker health and safety complaints.

Additional functions vary by jurisdiction:

Table 5: Additional JHSC Powers & Functions under OHS Laws

Jur. Participating in or Doing Workplace Inspections Participating in Incident Investigations Participating in Resolving Work Refusals Being Present for Technical Tests, e.g., Chemicals, Noise Dealing with Workers’ Health & Safety Complaints Other
FED Helping in assessment of hazardous substances
AB Very limited role in work refusals
BC Advise employer on proposed changes to equipment + machinery
MB
NB Carry out required monitoring + measuring procedures by trained JHSC members
NL
NS
ON Initiation or participation of work stoppages
PEI
QC *Select individual protective devices + equipment

*Receive + study inspection reports

*Keep work accident registries

*Analyze MD statistical data

SK
NT & NU
YK

Practical Pointer: Employers and unions may—and often do—grant the JHSC powers and functions beyond these legally required minimums.

  1. Information the JHSC Is Entitled to Access

OHS laws require employers/constructors to furnish or give the JHSC access to information about the health and safety of the particular workplace it needs to perform its functions, including:

  • Results of OHS inspections, investigations and other government reports;
  • Results of internal inspections, hazard assessments and tests on machinery, equipment, devices or measuring exposure of workers to chemical, biological or physical hazards;
  • Reports and results of work refusals; and
  • Reports and investigation results of safety incidents, including those involving workplace violence and harassment incidents.

Practical Pointer: Employers/Constructors are not required to disclose trade secrets (e.g., chemical composition of proprietary products) or protected personal information about workers (e.g., illnesses a particular worker contracted at work).

  1. The JHSC Information Employers Must Post

Rule of thumb: Employers/Constructors must post certain information about the JHSC and its activities in a prominent spot in the workplace to ensure that workers know about the JHSC and what it’s doing. Required information typically includes names of JHSC members, minutes from previous meetings and copies of government OHS orders pertaining directly to the JHSC, e.g., an order exempting the employer/constructor from establishing one at the work site.

Table 6. Employer/Constructor JHSC Posting Requirements

JURISD. OHS POSTING REQUIREMENTS
JHSC Information Means of Communication
FEDERAL *Names/work phones/locations of all JHSC members

*Copies of requests for exemptions from JHSC requirements

*JHSC LAB 1058 Form annual report (see Table 13 below) on workplace activities(1)

*Post in a conspicuous place(s) in the workplace where it’s likely to come to the attention of employees

*LAB 1058 Form must be posted for at least 2 months

ALBERTA *Names + contact info for all JHSC members

*Minutes of JHSC meetings (within 7 days of meeting date)

 

*Post conspicuously at every work site where workers are represented by the JHSC

*Meeting minutes can be either posted or delivered electronically within 7 days

BC *Names + work locations of all JHSC members

*Minutes of last 3 JHSC meetings

Post in workplace
MANITOBA *Names of all JHSC members + dates their term of office expires

*JHSC meetings schedule

*Agenda for each meeting

*Minutes of JHSC meetings(2)

Bulletin board in prominent place in workplace that’s readily accessible to workers for the exclusive use of JHSC members
NB Not specified Not specified
NL *Names of all JHSC members

*JHSC meeting minutes

Post in a prominent place in the workplace

 

NOVA SCOTIA *Names + contact info for all JHSC members

*Minutes of most recent JHSC meeting

Post in a prominent place in the workplace
ONTARIO Names + work locations of all JHSC members

 

Post in conspicuous place(s) in workplace where it’s most likely to come to workers’ attention
PEI *Names + contact info for all JHSC members

*Minutes of most recent JHSC meeting

Post in a prominent place in the workplace
QUEBEC Names of all JHSC members Post in as many conspicuous places in establishment that are easily accessible to workers as reasonably necessary to ensure workers get the info
SASK *Names of all JHSC members

*Minutes of JHSC meetings(3)

*Post member names in conspicuous location at every place of employment of workers represented by JHSC

*Post minutes in location that’s readily accessible to workers at place of employment

NWT/NU *Names of all JHSC members

*Minutes of JHSC meetings

*Employer/Constructor must make JHSC member names “accessible” + not specifically required to post them

*JHSC itself must post its own minutes at work site in location that’s readily accessible to workers

YUKON Not specified Not specified
Notes
(1) Under the Canada Labour Code, federally regulated employers must make available but need not post copies of JHSC meeting minutes
(2) In Manitoba, JHSC meeting minutes must be signed by the co-chairs and remain posted until all matters listed as items in the minutes are resolved
(3) In Sask, JHSC meeting minutes must remain posted until all concerns recorded in the minutes are resolved

 

  1. The Logistical Support & Resources the Employer Must Provide the JHSC

Rule of thumb: Employers/Constructors must cooperate and consult with the JHSC, provide the information it needs, respond to its recommendations and give staffers time from work to perform their member functions (see Table 7 below). A few jurisdictions actually require employers/constructors to provide the JHSC resources and logistical support:

  • Federal: Ensure that the work space, equipment and personnel the JHSC needs is available in the workplace; and
  • BC: Furnish the JHSC the work space, equipment and clerical personnel it needs; and
  • Manitoba: Provide a place for JHSC meetings and other “appropriate resources” for JHSC to carry out its functions, including a bulletin board for the JHSC’s exclusive use.
  1. Members’ Right to Be Paid for Performing JHSC Functions

Rule of thumb: JHSC members have the right to take time off from work to prepare for and go to meetings and perform their other member duties during regular work hours with no loss in pay or benefits. Several jurisdictions also give JHSC members education leave to take government-required or approved health and safety training.

Table 7. Rights of JHSC Members to Be Paid for Committee Duties & Education Leave

JURISD. JHSC MEMBER RIGHTS
Pay for Performing JHSC Duties Education Leave
FEDERAL *JHSC members may take time during regular work hours to attend meetings + perform other JHSC functions

*Above time, including preparation + travel, paid at regular or premium rate, depending on collective agreement or company policy

Not expressly provided for but presumably would be payable if deemed an essential JHSC function
ALBERTA *JHSC members may take time away:

>For a period JHSC determines is required to attend + prepare for JHSC meetings + meetings with employer/prime contractor

>To attend health + safety training for amount of time approved by JHSC + employer

>For whatever amount of time JHSC determines members need to perform their member duties

*Above time paid at applicable rate of pay

*JHSC members also get annual education leave of 2 normal shifts or 16 hours, whichever is greater, away to attend health + safety training programs, courses or seminars, provided that they give employer/prime contractor reasonable notice

*Neither OHS Act nor OHS Code specifies that above time for education leave must be paid

BC *JHSC member may take time off to prepare for + attend meetings + perform other JHSC functions

*Above time considered work time that member must be paid for

 

*JHSC members also get annual education leave of at least 8 hours to attend health + safety courses provided or approved by WorkSafeBC

*Employer must provide annual education leave with no loss of pay or benefits

*Employer must pay for not only the course but member’s other “reasonable” costs in attending it

MANITOBA *JHSC members may take time off from regular duties of:

>1 hour to prepare for JHSC meetings (unless JHSC determines more time is needed)

>Whatever time is required to attend JHSC meetings

>Such other time as necessary to perform their JHSC member duties

*Above time considered work time that member must be paid for

*JHSC members also get annual education leave of 2 normal shifts or 16 hours, whichever is greater, away to attend health + safety training programs or courses offered by govt, approved by JHSC or required by the collective agreement

*Employer must pay member at regular or premium rate for education leave for actual hours spent attending training or one normal shift, whichever is greater(1)

NB JHSC members entitled to pay + benefits for attending JHSC meetings at their usual rate JHSC members entitled to pay + benefits for attending health + safety training at their usual rate
NL JHSC members may attend meetings with no loss of pay or benefits

 

JHSC co-chairs/members entitled to pay for attending required Committee training (under Sec. 38.1 of OHS Act) as if were regular work
NOVA SCOTIA *Employees who are JHSC members may take time off from work to attend meetings + perform other JHSC functions

*Above time deemed work time payable at member’s applicable rate

*Employees who are JHSC members may take time off from work to take required training

*Above time deemed work time payable at member’s applicable rate

ONTARIO *JHSC members may take time off from regular duties of:

>1 hour to prepare for JHSC meetings (unless JHSC determines more time is needed)

>Whatever time they need to attend JHSC meetings

>Such other time necessary to perform their JHSC workplace inspection + incident investigation duties

*Above time considered work time that member must be paid for at regular or premium rate

*Time JHSC member is away from work to become a certified member considered work time that member must be paid for at regular or premium rate

Employer must pay JHSC members for their time receiving certification training at regular or premium rate
PEI *Workers who are JHSC members may take time off from work to attend meetings + perform other JHSC functions

*Above time deemed work time for which member is entitled to usual pay + benefits

*Workers who are JHSC members may take time off from work to take training required by Regs.

*Above time deemed work time for which member is entitled to usual pay + benefits

QUEBEC *Workers deemed to be at work when participating in meetings + JHSC work (which implies that they get usual pay for that time)

*Workers must notify supervisor or employer when they take time off work to participate in JHSC meetings + work

Not expressly provided for
SASK Employer/Contractor must ensure JHSC members lose no pay or benefits for participating in regular or special meetings

 

*JHSC members get leave of up to 5 working days per year to attend OHS training programs, seminars or courses

*Members must give “reasonable notice” of leave

*Leave is paid if the program, seminar or course is provided by the Sask. OHS director or an approved training agency

NWT/NU The time members spend on JHSC activities + participating in regular + special meetings is deemed work time payable at member’s usual rate with no loss in benefits Time JHSC members spend attending health + safety training programs, seminars or courses counts as work time with no loss in pay or benefits, provided that the program, seminar or course is provided by WSCC or an approved training agency
YUKON *JHSC members entitled to any time from work necessary to attend meetings + perform any other JHSC functions

*Above time considered work time that member must be paid for

Not expressly provided for but presumably would be payable if deemed an essential JHSC function

Note

(1) Manitoba education leave rules don’t apply to JHSCs of workplaces that are construction projects or seasonal workplaces where, in lieu of education leave, employers/prime contractors must establish an onsite education program providing all workers at least 30 minutes of health + safety instruction every 2 weeks with no loss of pay or benefits

  1. What Training JHSC Members Must Get

Rule of thumb: In addition to the normal job training all workers get, most jurisdictions (Nova Scotia, PEI and Québec are the lone exceptions) require workers on safety committees to get specialized training preparing them to perform their JHSC member functions effectively.

Table 8. Required Training for JHSC Members

Jurisd. Who Must Receive Training When Training Must Be Provided Who Must Provide Training Other Requirements
FED JHSC members

 

Not specified Employer * Employer must consult JHSC in developing training

*Review training every 3 years or sooner after changes in circumstances affecting content

*Training must cover: Act, Regs., JHSC functions, JHSC rules + procedures, consensus building principles

ALBERTA JHSC co-chairs

 

Not specified Govt.-approved training provider Training Curriculum

(6-8 hrs): Interactive course covering same material in greater depth + detail

BC All JHSC members (unless person received required training in past 2 years) As soon as practicable + no later than 6 months after designation Not specified *JHSC training must cover: Committee duties, functions & procedures; workplace inspections & investigations; work refusals; JHSC evaluation;

*Training must be certified in writing;

*Employer must keep written training record for at least 2 years after person stops being JHSC member

*In addition to annual JHSC education leave

MANITOBA JHSC members

 

Not specified WSH-approved providers JHSC members get annual education leave of 2 normal shifts or 16 hours, whichever is greater, away to attend health + safety training programs or courses offered by govt, approved by JHSC or required by the collective agreement
NEW

BRUNSWICK

All JHSC members

 

Non-construction sites:

Before or within 12 months of designation;

Construction sites:

Before designation

WorkSafeNB or trainer approved by WorkSafeNB to provide training for that workplace *Training must be provided at workplace + last at least 3 days

*Training must cover: JHSC responsibilities; OHS law; workplace inspection + hazard identification; accident review; prevention resources; elements of an OHS program

*Successful completion of training must be certified in writing

NL *If 50+ workers at site: All JHSC members

*If 10-49 workers: JHSC co-chairs

Not specified Not specified Training must meet WorkplaceNL criteria
NOVA SCOTIA NA NA NA OHS Act says govt. may adopt JHSC training regulations but it hasn’t yet done so
ONTARIO *At least 1 JHSC worker member + 1 management member must be certified Not specified Trainer approved by Chief Prevention Officer *Certification not required for JHSC members at construction sites with <50 workers or that are expected to last <3months

*Certification consists of: Part 1, 19.5 hours general training; + Part 2, 13 hours for trainees to apply of hazard recognition, assessment, and control, and evaluation of hazard controls to 6 specific workplace hazards

*Certification must be renewed every 3 years via completion of 6.5 hours refresher training

PEI NA NA NA NA
QUEBEC NA NA NA NA
SASK JHSC co-chairs

.

Not specified Not specified Guidelines recommend that training also be provided to alternate co-chairs and cover:

*How to identify + control industry-specific hazards, including ergonomic hazards

*How to conduct inspections

*Sask. OHS legislation

*WHMIS

NWT + NU JHSC co-chairs

 

Not specified Not specified
YUKON JHSC co-chairs

 

Within 90 days of selection Employer Employer must orient co-chairs to their duties + functions within 90 days and let them take OHS courses offered or designated by director as soon as those courses become available

  1. How Often the JHSC Must Meet

Rule of thumb: The JHSC must hold regular meeting during regular work hours at least as often as required by the jurisdiction’s OHS laws and special meetings to deal with situations that can’t wait for the next scheduled meeting. The JHSC co-chairs are generally responsible for scheduling and preparing the agenda for regular meetings. The provincial OHS agency can also order the JHSC to hold more frequent regular meetings or convene special meetings.

Table 9. How Often the JHSC Must Meet

JURISD. JHSC MEETING FREQUENCY REQUIREMENTS
Regular Meetings Special Meetings
FEDERAL At least 9 times a year at regular intervals

 

As necessary either during or outside regular working hours
ALBERTA Within 10 days of the JHSC’s creation + at least quarterly thereafter Can be called at any time by either JHSC co-chair
BC At least once a month Not addressed
MANITOBA *Within 1 month of the JHSC’s creation + at least once every 3 months thereafter Can be called at any time by either JHSC co-chair
NB At least once a month

 

Not addressed
NL Within 2 weeks of the JHSC’s creation + at least once every 3 months thereafter Not addressed

 

NOVA SCOTIA JHSC decides for itself

 

Not addressed
ONTARIO At least once every 3 months

 

Not addressed
PEI At least once a month unless JHSC specifies otherwise in its rules of procedure Not addressed
QUEBEC Within 30 days of the JHSC’s creation + thereafter at least once:

>Every 3 months if <25 workers at site

>Every 2 months if 25 to 100 workers at site

>Every month if >100 workers at site

Member can call special meeting on 3 days’ notice if a workplace fatality or serious accident requiring CNESST notification (under Sec. 62 of OHS Act) occurs
SASK Within 2 weeks of the JHSC’s creation, at least 3 more times at intervals no longer than 1 month after that, + once every 3 months thereafter Either co-chair may call a special meeting to deal with urgent concerns, imminent dangers to health or safety, investigations of accidents or dangerous occurrences or work refusals
NWT/NU Within 14 days of the JHSC’s creation, at least 3 more times at intervals no longer than 1 month after that, + once every 3 months thereafter Either co-chair may call a special meeting to deal with urgent concerns, imminent dangers to health or safety, investigations of accidents causing serious bodily injury or dangerous occurrences, or work refusals
YUKON At least once a month As necessary to deal with emergencies + urgent situations

  1. How JHSC Meetings Work

Rule of thumb: The co-chairs create the agenda, hopefully with input from regular members, and distribute it to members before the meeting. A typical JHSC regular meeting agenda includes:

  • A review of the minutes of the last meeting;
  • A review of old business;
  • A discussion of the most recent workplace inspection;
  • A discussion of safety concerns raised by the workers;
  • A discussion of new business, such as recent safety incidents, new equipment in the workplace, changes in the OHS laws or government orders;
  • A discussion of any seasonal issues, such as cold stress in the winter; and
  • Decisions on how to address new issues, such as determining if any formal recommendations should be made to the employer about identified safety hazards.

The JHSC can’t hold an official meeting or take official actions unless a minimum number of members attend the meeting (called a “quorum”).

Table 10. JHSC Meeting Operation Requirements

JURISD. REQUIREMENTS FOR OPERATION OF JHSC MEETINGS
Quorum Other Meeting Rules
FEDERAL Majority of JHSC members as long as among the members who do show up:

>at least ½ represent workers +

>at least 1 represents management

 

 

*Regular meetings during regular working hours

*Special meeting can be either during or outside regular working hours

ALBERTA Half the JHSC members as long as among the members who do show up:

>at least ½ represent workers +

>at least 1 represents management

 

JHSC must inspect workplace at least once before each quarterly meeting
BC Not specified*
MANITOBA ½ worker members +

½ management members

*At least 3 days’ notice required for regular meetings

*JHSC must inspect workplace at least once before each regular meeting

*Employer/Prime contractor must provide suitable location for JHSC meeting

NB Not specified*

 

NL Half the JHSC members as long as both worker + management members “are equally represented”  

 

NOVA SCOTIA Not specified*

 

ONTARIO Not specified* JHSC must meet at workplace
PEI Not specified*
QUEBEC ½ worker members +

at least 1 management member

SASK Half the JHSC members as long as among the members who do show up:

>at least ½ represent workers +

>at least 1 represents management

 

JHSC decisions relating to work refusals require unanimous vote of members present at meeting
NWT/NU Half the JHSC members as long as among the members who do show up:

>at least ½ represent workers +

>at least 1 represents management

 

JHSC decisions relating to work refusals require unanimous vote of members present at meeting
YUKON Not specified* *Regular meetings during regular working hours

*Special meeting can be either during or outside regular working hours

*Quorum is required but JHSC must make its own rule on what constitutes a quorum

 

  1. How JHSC Meetings Are Documented

Rule of thumb: The JHSC must keep meeting minutes summarizing the issues addressed and actions taken at the meeting. As soon as possible after each meeting, the minutes must be signed or otherwise authenticated by the co-chairs, distributed to the members and the employer/constructor and posted at the workplace (see Table 6 above). Minutes of previous meetings must also be retained and made available to OHS inspectors and others entitled to request them.

Table 11. JHSC Meeting Minutes Authentication, Distribution + Retention Rules

JURISD. REQUIREMENTS FOR JHSC MEETING MINUTES
Means of Authentication Distribution Retention
FEDERAL As soon as possible after meeting, co-chairs must review minutes + sign document to approve them As soon as possible after receiving minutes + approval document: >Management co-chair must designate a member to distribute them to the other members + employer

>Employer must distribute them to policy committee + make minutes readily available to employees for 1 month

Employer must keep minutes + approval document at its head office or the workplace for 2 years from the date the meeting was held
ALBERTA Not specified

 

Co-chairs must ensure that within 7 days after meeting, a copy of the approved minutes is:

>Given to employer/prime contractor

>Posted or provided electronically at workplace

Employer/Prime contractor must keep minutes + make them available to an OHS inspector or JHSC member for 2 years
BC JHSC must prepare report of meeting after each meeting *JHSC must give copy of report to employer

*Employer must post minutes at workplace

*Employer must, if requested, give copy of report to any union that represents workers at the site

Employer must keep report + make it available to OHS inspectors, unions, JHSC members for 2 years
MANITOBA Co-chairs must ensure minutes are properly recorded + sign them after meeting *JHSC must give employer/prime contractor copy of signed minutes

*Employer/Prime contractor has 7 days to post minutes at workplace + ensure a copy is sent to WorkSafeBC + other JHSC members

Employer/Prime contractor must keep minutes at workplace for 10 years
NB Co-chairs must sign minutes Employer/Contractor must post minutes at workplace(1)

 

Not specified
NL Not specified 1 copy gets kept in JHSC files, 1 copy gets posted at workplace + 1 copy gets sent to WorkplaceNL Not specified

 

NOVA SCOTIA Not specified

 

Meeting minutes must be posted at workplace Not specified
ONTARIO Not specified Not specified Not specified
PEI Not specified Meeting minutes must be posted at workplace Not specified
QUEBEC At each meeting, JHSC must approve minutes of previous meeting Once minutes are approved, JHSC must give 1 copy to employer + enter 1 copy into a special minutes register kept by the JHSC *Employer must keep approved minutes for 5 years

*JHSC members entitled to get copy of approved minutes

SASK Not specified 1 copy gets kept in JHSC files, 1 copy goes to employer + 1 copy gets posted at workplace without being taken down until all issues minutes address are resolved Employer must keep minutes available for OHS inspectors + JHSC members to inspect but regs. don’t say for how long
NWT/NU Not specified

 

Minutes must be posted at workplace Not specified

 

YUKON Not specified Not specified

 

Not specified

 

(1) New Brunswick laws require JHSC of a construction site to send WorkSafeNB copy of signed minutes but don’t specify who has that responsibility at a non-construction site

 

  1. How the JHSC Makes Its Recommendations

Rule of thumb: JHSC recommendations must be approved by majority vote during a meeting in which a quorum is present. The actual recommendation must be in writing and limited to matters of workplace health and safety. Thus, for example, the JHSC doesn’t have authority to issue recommendations regarding wages. Best Practice: The recommendation should include:

  • A clear and complete description of the problem;
  • Documentation of why it’s a problem, e.g., information about previous incidents, complaints or work refusals involving the problem;
  • A recommended solution or, better yet, a list of options;
  • A rationale for each recommendation, including citations to relevant sections of OHS laws requiring the measure;
  • A proposed timetable for implementing the recommendation; and
  • A deadline for the employer/constructor to respond (see Table 12 below).

Quirky JHSC Voting Rules to Be Aware of:

In SK, NT and NU, recommendations dealing with work refusals require a unanimous vote by all members present at the meeting;
In ON and MB, either co-chair can issue recommendations on his/her own if the JHSC can’t agree on the recommendation after making a “good faith” attempt to do so.

  1. How the Employer Must Respond to JHSC Recommendations

Rule of thumb: While not legally obligated to accept a JHSC’s recommendations, employers/constructors are required to respond to them in writing by a specific deadline. Some jurisdictions also give the JHSC the right to go over the employer/constructor’s head if the recommendation is rejected.

Table 12. OHS Rules for Employer Response to JHSC Recommendations

JURISD. OHS REQUIREMENT FOR RECOMMENDATION RESPONSE
Deadline to Respond Format Response Other Response Rules
FEDERAL Within 30 days of receiving In writing indicating what, if any, action will be taken + when
ALBERTA Not specified Not specified
BC *Within 21 days of receiving

*If 21 days not “reasonably possible,” employer must give written explanation for delay + expected response date

In writing indicating acceptance or rejection + reasons for rejection If JHSC is dissatisfied with rejection or explanation for a delay in responding, either co-chair can ask WorkSafeBC to investigate + try to resolve the matter
MANITOBA Within 30 days of receiving Response must be in writing + list either:

>A timetable for implementing recommendations + any interim measures to be taken in meantime

>Reasons for rejecting recommendations

If the matter remains unresolved, the JHSC, a committee member or the employer/prime contractor can ask govt. OHS officer to intervene
NB Not specified

 

Not specified
NL Within 30 days In writing indicating acceptance or reason for rejection If employer accepts recommendation, must provide JHSC regular written progress reports on implementation
NOVA SCOTIA *Within 21 days of receiving

*If 21 days not “reasonably possible,” employer must give written explanation for delay + expected response date

In writing indicating acceptance or reason for rejection If JHSC is dissatisfied with rejection or explanation for a delay in responding, either co-chair must promptly notify a govt. OHS official
ONTARIO Within 21 days of receiving In writing indicating acceptance + a timetable for implementation or rejection + explanation of why JHSC must meet at workplace
PEI *Within 30 days of receiving—as long as recommendation specifically asks for a response

*If 30 days not “reasonably practicable,” employer must give written explanation for delay + expected response date

In writing indicating acceptance or reason for rejection If JHSC is dissatisfied with explanation for a delay in responding, it must promptly notify a govt. OHS official
QUEBEC Not specified Not specified Not specified
SASK Not specified

 

Employer must provide JHSC written reasons for not addressing or resolving a concern raised by the JHSC Not specified
NWT/NU Not specified Not specified Not specified
YUKON Not specified Not specified Not specified

 

  1. How JHSC Effectiveness Is Monitored

Rule of thumb: The JHSC should keep records of its activities so that the committee or employer can monitor its effectiveness on an annual basis. While expressly required in only a few jurisdictions, effectiveness monitoring is a Best Practice that should be undertaken at any workplace with a JHSC.

Table 13. JHSC Effectiveness Monitoring Obligations under OHS Laws

JURISD. JHSC MONITORING REQUIREMENTS
FEDERAL *By March 1, management co-chair must issue an annual report (using the govt. LAB 1058 Form) summarizing the JHSC’s activities from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of previous year

*LAB 1058 must be signed by both co-chairs + be posted in workplace for at least 2 months

ALBERTA None
BC Employer must ensure that a written evaluation is made each year assessing the JHSC’s overall effectiveness and whether its activities complied with all OHS requirements
MANITOBA None
NB None
NL None
NS None
ONTARIO None
PEI None
QUEBEC By March 31, JHSC must send CNESST an annual report of activities from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of previous year listing:

>Unions of workers represented on JHSC

>Number of workers at workplace

>JHSC members + their functions

>Meeting frequency + average attendance

>Name of physician in charge of health services at workplace

>Changes to the OHS prevention program made as a result of JHSC recommendations

>Number + nature of worker complaints received

>Number + description of incidents causing work accidents + occupational diseases investigated

SASK None
NWT/NU None
YUKON None