JHSC Committee Composition

The Occupational Health & Safety Act states that one worker and one management member from the joint health and safety committee must complete the JHSC certificate training. Special training is required to ensure the certified members can effectively carryout assigned committee functions.

The goal of JHSC Part 1 basic certification training is to educate committee representatives so that they can achieve compliance with applicable legislation. An important role for committee members is the implementation of corrective actions to minimize workplace health and safety hazards, and to promote the Internal Responsibility System (IRS).

A JHSC is required where:

  • a workplace regularly employs twenty or more workers
  • when a Ministry of Labour Inspector orders a workplace to appoint a safety committee; or
  • at a workplace where fewer than twenty workers are regularly employed, and where a regulation concerning designated substances applies

A committee must be formed at a construction project with twenty or more regularly employed workers, and where the project is expected to last three months or more. Members of the worker trades committee must represent workers employed in each of the trades at the workplace. These members must be selected by the workers in the trades that they represent or, if a trade union represents workers, then the union selects the worker representatives.

Normally, a workplace where fewer than twenty but more than five people are regularly employed, a committee is not required however workers must select from among themselves, one person to be a health and safety representative. At the present time training is not required to be the designated health and safety representative however many employers see the obvious benefits of this person attending the same training as certified committee members.

The Occupational Health & Safety Act states that a committee must consist of at least two people in a workplace that regularly employs fewer than fifty workers and at least four persons (or more) in a workplace where fifty or more workers are regularly employed. Furthermore, at least half the members of a committee shall be workers employed at the workplace that do not exercise managerial functions.

The management may select a managerial worker representative, someone having a certain set of skills or knowledge of the operation, for representation on the committee however may not select any worker representatives. That task must be completed through a documented election process. This process includes a period of time where nominations are accepted and the results posted. Workers shall cast a vote for one of the nominated workers and the person with the most votes may accept the role of worker representative. In a unionized workplace, the worker members must be chosen by the trade union or unions representing the employees.

Although the Act states the minimum number of people required on a committee, and dictates how many must complete Part One – Basic Certification training, it does not require a greater number of people on the committee. It is however reasonable to consider ensuring representation on the committee from all departments to ensure health and safety issues from the entire workforce are discussed at committee meetings. The optimal situation is to have a manager and worker from each department represented on the committee and provide certification training to at least four representatives (two worker/two management) to ensure coverage during holidays and sick days. A committee meeting cannot take place without both certified representatives present.

As you can see, not everyone on the committee is required to attend training however many companies do certify each and every member on the committee. This approach helps to ensure that a high level of skill and knowledge is acquired by all committee members, a level that is needed to address the wide variety of workplace hazards. When the entire committee functions at the same level, everyone has the chance to improve substandard acts and conditions in the workplace. By empowering and enlightening the entire committee, increased participation in discussions and recommendations will lead toward improved moral and higher health and safety standards within the workplace. The ultimate goal is the total elimination of workplace accidents and incidents.

Employers are then required to respond in writing to the committee with an implementation timeline or reasons for disagreement with the recommendation. Providing recommendations for improving workplace conditions is a main purpose of the committee. An effective committee that is functioning as expected will contribute to the reduction of work-related accidents and deaths.

Since committees are made up of representatives from various departments and from different levels of the organization, it is hoped that in this cooperative environment everything reasonable is done to eliminate workplace health and safety hazards. The committee plays an important advisory role that increases awareness of safety issues, recognizes workplace risks and then deals with these risks.