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Issued January 20, 2012
The Workers Compensation Act ("Act") states:
When a joint committee is required
An employer must establish and maintain a joint health and safety committee
(a) in each workplace where 20 or more workers of the employer are regularly employed, and
(b) in any other workplace for which a joint committee is required by order.
Variations in committee requirements
(1) Despite section 125, the Board may, by order, require or permit an employer to establish and maintain
(a) more than one joint committee for a single workplace of the employer,
(b) one joint committee for more than one workplace or parts of more than one workplace of the employer, or
(c) one joint committee for the workplace or parts of the workplaces of a number of employers, if the workplaces are the same, overlapping or adjoining.
(2) An order under subsection (1) may
(a) specify the workplace, workplaces or parts for which a joint committee is required or permitted, and
(b) provide for variations regarding the practice and procedure of a joint committee from the provisions otherwise applicable under this Part or the regulations.
Duties and functions of joint committee
A joint committee has the following duties and functions in relation to its workplace:
(a) to identify situations that may be unhealthy or unsafe for workers and advise on effective systems for responding to those situations;
(b) to consider and expeditiously deal with complaints relating to the health and safety of workers;
(c) to consult with workers and the employer on issues related to occupational health and safety and occupational environment;
(d) to make recommendations to the employer and the workers for the improvement of the occupational health and safety and occupational environment of workers;
(e) to make recommendations to the employer on educational programs promoting the health and safety of workers and compliance with this Part and the regulations and to monitor their effectiveness;
(f) to advise the employer on programs and policies required under the regulations for the workplace and to monitor their effectiveness;
(g) to advise the employer on proposed changes to the workplace or the work processes that may affect the health or safety of workers;
(h) to ensure that accident investigations and regular inspections are carried out as required by this Part and the regulations;
(i) to participate in inspections, investigations and inquiries as provided in this Part and the regulations;
(j) to carry out any other duties and functions prescribed by regulation.
Joint committee procedure
(1) Subject to this Part and the regulations, a joint committee must establish its own rules of procedure, including rules respecting how it is to perform its duties and functions.
(2) A joint committee must meet regularly at least once each month, unless another schedule is permitted or required by regulation or order.
Purpose of guideline
The joint health and safety committee ("joint committee") plays an important role in an employer’s internal responsibility system, providing workers and the employer a forum to address health and safety issues in a consultative manner.
The purpose of this guideline is to set out the employer’s responsibility in ensuring the joint committee is properly established and maintained.
This guideline is also intended to provide guidance on the factors that a WorkSafeBC prevention officer may consider in determining whether to issue an order to vary the joint committee structure under section 126.
Under section 125, the employer has an obligation to "establish and maintain" a joint committee where required. The establishment and maintenance of the joint committee means that the employer must ensure the following:
The employer should work with the joint committee in ensuring that obligations under these sections, as well as its other general duties as required by the Act or the OHS Regulation, are met.
The employer is expected to take an active role in ensuring the joint committee functions as required. If a situation is identified where the committee is not meeting its obligations, the employer may be deemed to not be adequately maintaining the joint health and safety committee.
Varying the joint committee structure
Section 125 requires a joint committee be established and maintained at each workplace where there are 20 or more workers of the employer. An employer, or members of a joint committee at a particular workplace may wish to vary this requirement to provide a structure that is more appropriate for the type of workplace or workplaces operated by the employer. The situations where this may arise include the following:
Varying the joint committee requirements in section 125 may only be done by a Board (i.e., WorkSafeBC) order. Typically this will be triggered by a request from a workplace party (e.g., the employer, members of the committee, the union).
The request should be supported by as much relevant information as possible. This could include the following:
In considering the request, the prevention officer’s goal is to evaluate whether the proposed structure will be practical and equal or more effective than the structure set out in section 125. Factors that the prevention officer should consider include the following:
The prevention officer should ensure that there is a union or workers’ representative agreement to the proposed structure and that workers’ interests are best represented in the proposed structure.
The prevention officer may also wish to provide a time limit to the order, such as a year or two years, to allow for the new structure to be reviewed and renewed by the prevention officer based on the findings of the review. This review could involve the employer conducting worker surveys, reviews of injury trends, and a review of the meeting minutes to ensure the new structure is effective.
Issued February 27, 2001; Revised March 25, 2005; Editorial Revision October 23, 2012
Section 135(1) of the Workers Compensation Act ("Act") states:
Each member of a joint committee is entitled to an annual educational leave totalling 8 hours, or a longer period if prescribed by regulation, for the purposes of attending occupational health and safety training courses conducted by or with the approval of the Board.
A person who is new to the role of joint committee member, or to the role of worker health and safety representative, is likely to best meet their occupational health and safety training needs through introductory level courses such as the WorkSafeBC Joint Committee course developed by WorkSafeBC. A joint committee member or a worker health and safety representative who already has had education, training and experience in health and safety programs and committee activity may or may not be able to meet their current training needs through WorkSafeBC offerings. In some instances, workplaces have training needs which are unique to their processes or situations. In these cases, joint committee education/training needs may best be addressed through courses developed and delivered by public or private sector providers.
The following sets out what is a course "conducted by or with the approval of WorkSafeBC" under section 135 of the Act: