What is a Joint Health and Safety Committee?
A Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is a group of employees, some with and some without management duties, who work together to keep workplaces safe and to protect workers from hazards on the job. In Ontario, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) emphasizes the importance of all workplace parties coming together to improve workplace health and safety. This approach is known as the internal responsibility system. The underlying role of the JHSC is to support the internal responsibility system and ensure that it is functioning effectively. It accomplishes this through many activities, such as inspections, investigations, consultations, and making recommendations.
Who needs JHSC Training?
Anyone who wants to become a certified member of a JHSC requires training. Large JHSCs require only some members to be certified. Small JHSCs require all members to be certified. Half of the certified members must be management members, and the other half must be worker members (employees without management duties).
The minimum number of certified members on the JHSC depends on the number of workers at the workplace and whether or not the Designated Substance Regulation (O.Reg. 490/09) applies. Section 9 of the OHSA describes the requirements for JHSC composition:
- If there are 1-5 regularly employed workers, a JHSC is only required if the workplace uses a designated substance, in which case they must have a JHSC with one certified management member and one certified worker member.
- If there are 6-19 regularly employed workers, a health and safety representative is required. If the workplace uses a designated substance, they must have a JHSC with one certified management member and one certified worker member.
- If there are 20-49 regularly employed workers, a JHSC with one certified management member and one certified worker member is required.
- If there are 50+ regularly employed workers, a JHSC of two worker members and two management members is required. One worker member and one management member must be certified.
A workplace may be exempt from the above rules in some situations, such as construction projects where work is expected to last less than three months and certain farming operations (see subsections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Farming Operations Regulation, O. Reg. 414/05 for more details). It’s important to know that the Minister of Labour has the power to require any workplace to form a JHSC, regardless of the size or length of the project.
JHSC Certification Requirements
There are four parts to the initial certification process.
First, you must complete the JHSC Part One training through a training provider that has been approved by the Chief Prevention Officer (CPO). This three-day course is generic to all workplaces. At the end of the course, you must pass a final written exam with a score of at least 75%.
Next, your employer will assess your workplace for hazards and select the most relevant JHSC Part Two training.
Then, you must complete the JHSC Part Two training through a training provider that has been approved by the CPO. You must complete the two-day JHSC Part Two training within six months of finishing the JHSC Part One training. Unlike JHSC Part One, the JHSC Part Two course is more specific to your type of work, and you will practice applying health and safety concepts to hazards relevant to your workplace.
Finally, you will receive a certification ID from the Ministry of Labour. After the initial certification process, refresher training must be completed every three years (for those who received their initial certification after March 1, 2016). Refresher training reviews the key ideas from Part One and Part Two training, and includes updates to occupational health and safety legislation, regulations, and best practices.
Ministry of Labour JHSC Certification Requirements
- 3 days (19.5 hours)
- Topics include: occupational health and safety law; rights, duties and responsibilities; hazard recognition, assessment and control, and evaluation of hazard controls
- 2 days (13 hours)
- Training on a minimum of 6 hazards relevant to the workplace
- Training focuses on RACE methodology (Recognition, Assessment and Control of hazards, and Evaluation of the hazard controls)
- 1 day (6.5 hours)
- Topics include a review of key concepts from Part One and Part Two Training, updates to legislation, standards, codes of practice and occupational health and safety best practices; and an opportunity for certified members to share and discuss best practices
What are the employer’s responsibilities regarding joint health and safety committees?
Employers have a range of obligations when it comes to joint health and safety committees, which include some of the tasks listed below.
- Selecting committee members who exercise managerial functions for the employer to sit on the joint health and safety committee [subsection 9(9)]
- Assisting and cooperating with committee members in the carrying out of their functions [clause 25(2)(e)]
- Providing the committee with information relating to hazards in the workplace and any work practices and standards in similar industries [clause 9(18)(d)]
- Providing the committee with a copy of all orders or reports issued to the employer by a Ministry of Labour inspector [subsection 57(10)] informing the committee of any work-related incidents involving injury, death or occupational illness [sections 51 and 52] (see Section Vll of the Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act).
- Consulting with the JHSC or health and safety representative on the development of health and safety programs and policies (including training programs), where prescribed, and,
- Provide a joint health and safety committee member representing the workers with the opportunity to accompany a Ministry of Labour inspector on the physical inspection of the workplace [subsection 54(3)].