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What are joint health and safety committees?

Every workplace has to follow rules when it comes to workers health and safety, as the main objective of these rules is to ensure workers don’t get injured on the job.

One way to accomplish that is through joint health and safety committees. Every province and territory has a requirement to have a committee, which is sometimes called occupational health committee, or health and safety committee.

Usually, the creation of such a committee is required by statute. That statute is usually the occupational health and safety act or the worker’s compensation act of a province or territory.

There also has to be a certain amount of people employed by the company before there is a requirement to have a committee, unless the workplace falls into one of the exceptions which require them to have one.

What is a joint health and safety committee?

It often is a group of workers and employer representatives who are working together for the cause of finding and resolving potential and real health and safety issues at the workplace.

Basically, it’s an internal responsibility system which forces workers and managers to work together for the benefit of all workers to make the workplace a safer place.

What does a joint health and safety committee do?

A joint health and safety committee is responsible for accomplishing several things. Among some of them:

  • Identify potential or hazardous situations in the workplace through activities such as workplace inspections, accident investigations and information analysis;
  • Evaluate these potential hazards and situations, giving particular attention to employee concerns, complaints and recommendations;
  • Recommend corrective plans by participating in the development of assessment and control programs, discussing problems, recommending solutions, and providing input into existing and proposed health and safety programs;
  • Follow up on implemented recommendations, and maintain records, and more.

How many members have to the part of the joint health and safety committee?

Often the requirement for the size of the committee is that there have to be at least two members, at least one of which must be an employee. However, it depends on the individual statute of the province and territory, as often the two member requirement is just the minimum requirement.

Which workplaces are required to have a joint health and safety committee?

For example, in Ontario, a workplace that has less than 20 regular employees doesn’t have to have a committee, unless it falls into certain exceptional circumstances like being the subject of a minister’s order or a designated substance regulation applies to the workplace.

In New Brunswick, the workplaces that are required to have the committee have to follow the following requirement:

  • Any workplace that regularly employs 20 or more employees;
  • “Medium” project sites on which 30 to 499 or more workers are regularly employed, with a project duration of more than 90 days; and
  • “Large” project sites with more than 500 employees working at any time.

Usually, the requirement is 20 or more regular employees, but in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, the requirement is for ten employees or more. In Nunavut employers have to be directed by the minister or chief safety officer.

In Alberta, as of June 1, 2018, any workplace with 20 or more employees must have a committee. Workplaces with 5 to 19 employees must have a health and safety representative.

Every province and territory has their own legislation and employers need to verify with that legislation whether they are required to have a committee.

Read more:

Joint Health and Safety Committee - What is a Joint Health and Safety Committee?

Joint Health and Safety Committee - Creation

Worksite Health and Safety Committees - Alberta