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New Requirements for Joint Health and Safety Committees Coming This Spring

How does that adage go? The only constant in life is change itself?

Anyone charged with staying on top of OHS Regulations can attest to the truth in that. The latest round of changes, set to go into effect on April 3, 2017, will have a direct impact on the way joint health and safety committees operate. Designed to improve the way joint committees function, they give committees and health and safety representatives (H&S reps) increased responsibility and higher accountability.

Here’s how the changes could affect your workplace.

If your workplace has 20 or more workers, you already know that you’re required, by law, to have a joint committee at that  location.

You probably also know that the committee must have a minimum of four members, at least half of them employees, and two co-chairs, one elected by workers and one chosen by the employer.

Starting April 3, you will now have to ensure that written evaluations, measuring specified criteria, are done every year. If there’s more than one joint committee, be prepared to do a separate evaluation for each one.

Either the co-chairs of the joint committee or employers can do the evaluations, but employers who take on that role must do so with input from the co-chairs.

Joint committees are required to review the evaluation to determine if recommendations for improvement are necessary, and then the evaluation and the review must be incorporated into the minutes of the meeting and posted onsite.

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WorkSafeBC has created a Joint Health and Safety Committee Evaluation tool to help with the evaluation process.

Smaller companies may be affected by the changes too. All workplaces  with 10 or more workers will now have to provide minimum training to new committee members or new worker H&S reps respectively.

This is on top of the annual eight hours of educational leave all committee members and worker H&S reps are already entitled to.

Keep in mind, only those whose duties begin on or after April 3 require the minimum training—eight hours for committee members and four hours for representatives. But they must receive it no more than six months after their duties begin and training records must be kept for two years after their duties end.

If new committee members or worker H&S reps already have relevant experience or training, they may be exempt from this requirement. 

WorkSafeBC will have free training resources available online for both committee members and worker H&S reps by April 3. Alternatively, employers may provide their own training as long as it meets Regulation requirements.

Employers with 10 or more employees will also have to ensure a higher level of participation in incident investigations.

When an incident occurs, a worker rep from the joint committee, or the H&S rep, along with the employer rep must, at a minimum, help the investigator gather and analyze information, as well as identify corrective measures.

WorkSafeBC’s website has a range of resources and tools that can help you better understand the changes to the Regulation,  and meet the new requirements. Be sure to check back regularly for updates.