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Under the Ergonomics (MSI) Requirements, workers must be consulted in the MSI prevention process. The purpose of consultation is to obtain feedback from the workforce. The model of consultation used will depend on the size and complexity of the employer. Some larger employers have found it most effective to develop a facility-wide framework for MSI risk management while encouraging effective local decision-making to resolve MSI issues as they arise.
Experience shows that workers who perform the job are the best source of information for identifying, assessing, and effectively controlling the risk of MSI. When workers are involved in the MSI prevention process, they can often provide insight into the risks associated with their work - and they often have good ideas about effective risk controls.
Consultation also provides a forum for involving the workforce in decision-making that affects their work activities. This encourages workers to "buy into" the process, making the MSI reduction strategy more likely to succeed.
Section 4.53(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation requires the employer to consult with the joint committee or worker health and safety representative, as applicable, on:
In addition, when an employer conducts a risk assessment, section 4.53(2) of the Regulation requires the employer to consult with workers with signs and symptoms of MSI and with a representative sample of workers who do the tasks or functions being assessed. A "representative sample" here means a cross-section of workers in terms of age, shift schedule, size (height, weight), gender, work location, and so forth.
Consultation is the core component of an effective MSI prevention strategy. Setting up a process for consultation should be the first step in planning a strategy as well as an ongoing component in implementation of the strategy.
Consultation in a small firm could involve open communication on the types of activity that increase the risk of injury and brainstorming about how those risks could be reduced.
In a larger firm, consultation could involve some of the following activities:
If a joint health and safety committee is unable to reach agreement on a matter that affects the health and safety of workers, the committee should send their written recommendations to the employer with a written request for a response from the employer.
According to Section 133 of the Workers Compensation Act, the employer must respond to the committee, in writing, within 21 days of receiving the request. If the employer does not accept the committee's recommendations or the committee is not satisfied with the explanation, a co-chair of the committee may report this to WorkSafeBC, which may investigate the matter and attempt to resolve it.