Health and safety committees and representatives play a vital role in preventing/reducing work-related incidents. Cooperation between employers and employees improves the overall understanding of and adherence to occupational health and safety protocols. When problems and disputes arise, the internal complaint resolution process is undertaken.
What is a health and safety committee?
A health and safety committee is an assembly composed of worker and management representatives that meets on a regular basis for the purpose of dealing with health and safety issues. Having both workers and management involved combines in-depth practical knowledge of specific tasks with knowledge of the overview of company policies and procedures. This strengthens cooperation, improving the process of solving health and safety problems.
What does a health and safety committee do?
A health and safety committee advises employers regarding potential hazards/risks in the workplace. It makes recommendations aimed at resolving health and safety issues. Duties include:
- Consideration of health and safety complaints
- Evaluation of hazards/risks that may cause incidents, injuries and/or illness in the workplace
- Participation in inquiries and investigations pertaining to employee health and safety
- Participation in the planning of the implementation of changes that affect occupational health and safety (work processes, procedures)
- Reviewing workplace inspection reports
- Participation in resolving workplace refusals and work stoppages
- Making recommendations to management for incident prevention and safety program activities
- Monitoring the effectiveness of safety programs and procedures
Who is responsible for establishing a health and safety committee?
Alberta occupational health and safety legislation sets guidelines for organizing a committee; the structure of the committee, meeting frequency required and the roles/responsibilities of committee members. Employers are responsible for establishing the committee based on these guidelines.
When is a health and safety committee required?
If your business has 20 regularly employed workers, a health and safety committee is required under Canadian federal law. In Alberta, employers with 20 or more employees must have a committee. Alternatively, Alberta employers with 5 to 19 employees must have a health and safety representative.
Do the members of a workplace health and safety committee receive training?
Yes. The employer must ensure that committee members receive the necessary training in health and safety and are informed of their responsibilities.
Is an employer required to compensate the members of the health and safety committee?
Yes. The employer must pay committee members at their regular rate of pay as specified in the collective agreement or, if there is no collective agreement, in accordance with the employer’s policy. Members of the committee are compensated for attending meetings, performing other functions, preparation time and travelling.
How often does a health and safety committee meet?
Each workplace health and safety committee are required to meet on a minimum quarterly basis, at regular intervals and during regular working hours. The employer must ensure the availability of premises, equipment and personnel for the efficient operation of the committee.
Health and safety committees are composed of a group of worker and employer representatives who work together to address health and safety issues in their workplace. These committees provide a link between management and staff, so that health and safety solutions are developed together.
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