Joint health and safety committees aim to make workplaces safer and healthier. They also help ensure compliance with the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
A joint health and safety committee (JHSC) may be a legal requirement, but with a few upgrades it can become a powerful tool for maximizing workplace health and safety.
The basic requirements are straightforward. Every employer in British Columbia with 20 or more workers must, by law, have a JHSC. The committee must have at least four members, at least half of whom are workers. It must also have two co-chairs: one elected by workers, and one chosen by the employer.
(If your workplace regularly employs more than 9 but fewer than 20 workers, you usually need to have at least one worker health and safety representative instead of a committee.)
What JHSC members do
Besides attending regular meetings, members are charged with:
- Monitoring ongoing health and safety procedures
- Identifying hazards, dealing with complaints, and recommending solutions
- Advising the employer on educational and training programs, and monitoring their effectiveness
- Participating in workplace inspections and investigations, and ensuring they are carried out as required
- Establishing the committee’s own rules of procedure, detailing how it is to perform its role
A functioning JHSC will do all of these things. Many committees, however, take things a step further to become truly effective teams.
Making JHSCs more effective
Recent regulatory changes are designed to help ensure that all JHSCs become effective, rather than just functioning teams. Besides new training standards for committee members, requiring anyone elected on or after April 3, 2017 to complete 8 hours of mandatory training on specific topics, there is also a requirement for an annual written evaluation of each JHSC.
To prepare for this, WorkSafeBC has created a Joint Health and Safety Committee Evaluation Tool to help committee members and employers measure the effectiveness of their JHSCs. This online tool includes a series of questions designed to clarify the difference between the minimum legal requirements in each step and the gold standard of committee work.
A functioning JHSC will meet once a month. An effective committee will use an agenda, ensure each member attends or sends an alternate, and encourage equal participation by both worker and employer representatives.
For more information:
- Joint Health & Safety Committees (WorkSafeBC)
- Making the Most of Your Joint Health and Safety Committee (go2HR)
- Joint Health & Safety Committee Training (go2HR)
- Worker Health and Safety Representatives – Frequently Asked Questions (WorkSafeBC)
- Workers Compensation Act, Part 3, Division 4, sections 125 to 140, Joint Committees and Worker Representatives