OHS Committees

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Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Committees

How formal a company’s program needs to be generally depends on the size of the company. Across Canada OHS committees are known by slightly varying names: joint health and safety committee; industrial health and safety committee; joint work site health and safety committee; occupational health committee; workplace safety and health committee; or, health and safety committee. In British Columbia, a formal program that includes the involvement of an OHS committee is required where there is:

  • A workforce of 20 or more workers, and at least one workplace at which there is a moderate or high risk of injury
  • A workforce of 50 or more workers

A business with a smaller workforce requires a less formal OHS program. For example, companies with fewer than 20 workers can have a Safety Representative instead of a health and safety committee.

In Alberta, health and safety committees are only mandatory for those work sites required by Ministerial Order to have a committee. For all other work sites in Alberta, the establishment of a committee is voluntary.

For information regarding committee requirements for all Canadian jurisdictions visit the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada website at

http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/labour/labour_law/whs/oshcom.shtml

Role of the OHS Committee

OHS committees are made up of worker and employer representatives working together to identify and resolve health and safety issues. There must be an atmosphere of cooperation in order for a committee to effectively fulfill its roles, which include:

  • Identifying and recommending solutions to problems, and promoting safety
  • Recommending actions that will improve health and safety management
  • Promoting compliance with OHS Regulations
  • Dealing with employee suggestions concerning health and safety
  • Monitoring and following-up hazard reports and recommend actions
  • Participating in incident investigations if ever things go wrong and an employee is put at serious risk or injured.

Useful information:

The WorkSafeBC workbook Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee

The WorkSafeBC Small Business Health & Safety Log Book

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