What will be expected of me as a Health and Safety representative or Committee member?
Health and Safety Representatives work in conjunction with their fellow workers, supervisors and employers to report and address safety concerns. As a Representative or member of a JHSC, you will be responsible for the following:
- identifying actual and potential workplace hazards;
- obtaining information from the employer on health and safety conditions;
- inspecting the workplace on a regular basis;
- being consulted about (and having a worker representative be present at) the beginning of health and safety-related testing in the workplace;
- making recommendations to the employer on health and safety improvements in the workplace; and
- participating in investigations of work refusals and inspecting workplaces when there are critical injuries.
What is a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)?
A Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is an advisory group made up of both management and worker representatives who work together to identify health and safety problems and recommend solutions. Typically, workplaces with 20 or more regularly employed workers are required to have a Committee that’s equally represented by management and workers including its two Co-Chairs. In workplaces where there are between 6 and 19 regularly employed workers, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires the appointment of a Health and Safety Representative rather than a Committee.
How much time commitment is required?
Appointments are made by the AMAPCEO Board of Directors and consist of a two-year term that is renewable. As part of this work, Representatives and designated committee members are expected to conduct regular (monthly) inspections of the workplace to help identify hazards and thereby prevent or mitigate injuries.
As a member of a local JHSC, you should also expect to meet once every three months to discuss tabled matters for approximately one to two hours (variable). Additional commitments may be required of the two Committee Co-Chairs (e.g. drafting the agenda, chairing meetings in rotation).
Your responsibilities as a representative or committee member, however, are considered part of your normal job duties and does not require union leave from the workplace. You will continue to be paid by the employer for your health and safety work.
What kind of training is provided?
Your employer must provide training to representatives participating on Joint Health and Safety Committees. At a minimum, they must ensure one JHSC member representing workers and one representing management has completed a training program approved by the Ministry of Labour. Employers will soon be required to train Health and Safety representatives in smaller workplaces without a JHSC.
As part of our membership education program, AMAPCEO organizes periodic training and information-sharing opportunities for all of our health and safety representatives. Health and safety representatives also receive activist newsletters regularly during the year and are invited to participate in events organized by their District Executives.