Having an effective Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is crucial for maximizing workplace health and safety. A reasonable question that many employers and HR managers ask is “how often are JHSC members elected?” The quick and easy answer is “on an as-needed basis.” But to effectively address this question, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors, including legislated minimums, changes to your company, and turnover.
Upholding Legislated Requirements for JHSC Members
The Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations specify what workplaces must have JHSCs and the minimum number of members.
Refer to the chart below for your company-specific legal requirements.
You will need to elect new JHSC members if your organization grows past 19 employees and then again after growing to more than 49 employees.
Electing Members to Adapt to Changes in Your Organization
More than just personnel count can warrant the need for additional JHSC members. Other company circumstances can create the need to elect a new member. For example, if a new department is created, you may want to add an additional JHSC member to help account for the additional time required to inspect that department. Likewise, if a new shift is created, you may want to elect a JHSC member from that shift to ensure workers from the new shift have ample opportunity to voice safety concerns to the JHSC.
Electing JHSC Representatives Based on Certification Requirements
If your company requires a JHSC, then at least two of those members must be certified. Of the two certified members, one must represent the workers and the other must represent management. However, these are bare minimums. Having more than the bare minimum of workers complete JHSC training can improve the knowledge base of the JHSC and this can lead to improved safety performance. A 2017 review of Working at Heights Training revealed how effective training can be. The Institute for Work and Health evaluated the impact of mandatory Working at Heights training and found that it decreased lost-time claims by 21%! Imagine how much safer your workplace could be if you increased the number of workers who were trained in health and safety.
Electing Members to Replace Members Who Leave the Workplace
Inevitably, JHSC members will leave the committee. You should be prepared to elect new members as often as necessary to fill vacancies created by members who:
- leave the company
- move to a new location
- go on a leave of absence
Electing Members to Replace Members Who Leave When Their Term is Up
We recommend maximizing the effectiveness of your committee by stipulating a term for each member – how long they commit to being on the JHSC. When the member’s term is up, they can assess if they are still willing and able to be a productive member. While there is no legislated term length, we recommend a term of four years on the committee. This should be stated in a JHSC Terms of Reference. A four-year term allows members to gain enough training, experience and momentum to be a productive member of the committee and create positive change in the workplace, but prevents member burnout and complacency.
You can download our free JHSC Terms of Reference Template to start stipulating member terms and more.
In general, JHSC members can be elected at any time but should be done according to your terms of reference. Usually, members are added as required to meet the minimum number of committee members for that organization. If your organization grows, or if people leave the committee for any number of reasons, you will need to elect new members to meet mandatory minimums.
Keep in mind that the Occupational Health and Safety Act establishes minimum legal requirements. Therefore, in order to ensure that you are electing JHSC members at an appropriate frequency, consider your organization-specific demands.
Still have questions? OSG has over 20 years of experience helping organizations maintain effective Joint Health and Safety Committees! You can learn more about our JHSC Certification Training or contact us!
Written by Sydney Mansaray