All information provided on this article is from the Ministry of Labour (2016) website
What is a joint health and safety committee?
A joint health and safety committee (JHSC) is composed of worker and employer representatives. Together, they should be mutually committed to improving health and safety conditions in the workplace. Committees identify potential health and safety issues and bring them to the employer’s attention and must be kept informed of health and safety developments in the workplace by the employer. As well, a designated worker member of the committee inspects the workplace at least once a month.
What is the joint health and safety committee’s role?
The committee is an advisory body that helps to stimulate or raise awareness of health and safety issues in the workplace, recognizes and identifies workplace risks and develops recommendations for the employer to address these risks. To achieve its goal, the committee holds regular meetings and conducts regular workplace inspections and makes written recommendations to the employer for the improvement of the health and safety of workers.
Why are joint health and safety committees important?
Joint health and safety committees assist in providing greater protection against workplace injury and illness and deaths. Joint health and safety committees involve representatives from workers and employers. This co-operative involvement ensures that everything possible is done to identify and eliminate or mitigate workplace health and safety hazards.
Joint health and safety committees are a key element of a well-functioning workplace internal responsibility system.
Which workplaces must have joint health and safety committees?
|No. of Workers||Legislative requirement|
|1 to 5||You are not required to have a JHSC or a health and safety representative unless a designated substance regulation applies to your workplace.|
|6 to 19||You are required to have one health and safety representative who is selected by the workers they represent. If a designated substance regulation applies to your workplace, you are required to have a JHSC.|
|20 to 49||You are required to have a JHSC. The committee must have at least two (2) members.|
|50 plus||You are required to have a JHSC. The committee must have at least four (4) members.|
Workplaces that require committees include:
- any workplace that regularly employs 20 or more workers [clause 9(2)(a)]. Note that workers taking part in community participation (workfare) under the Ontario Works Act, 1997 are not counted for the purpose of determining whether there are 20 or more workers regularly employed
- construction projects on which 20 or more workers are regularly employed and expected to last three months or more [clauses 9(2)(a) and 9(1)(a)]
- any workplace (other than specified construction projects) to which a designated substances regulation applies, even if there are fewer than 20 workers regularly employed in the workplace [clause 9(2)(c)]
- any workplace where a Director’s order has been issued under section 33 of the Act, even if there are fewer than 20 workers regularly employed in the workplace [clause 9(2)(b)]
- any workplace or construction project in respect of which the Minister of Labour has ordered the employer or constructor to establish a committee [subsection 9(3)]
- farming operations at which 20 or more workers are regularly employed and have duties related to mushroom, greenhouse, dairy, hog, cattle or poultry farming. Detailed information is available in the Ministry of Labour’s A Guide for Health and Safety Representatives and Joint Health and Safety Committees on Farming Operations.
The Minister of Labour may also permit a single committee to be established for more than one workplace [subsections 9(3.1) and 9(5)]. These committees are commonly referred to as “multi-workplace committees.” For more information on multi-workplace committees, please see the section of this guide entitled Multi-workplace Joint Health and Safety Committees or contact a local Ministry of Labour office nearest your workplace.
How many members must a joint health and safety committee have?
In workplaces in which fewer than 50 workers are regularly employed, the Act requires the committee to have a minimum of two (2) members [clause 9(6)(a)]. Where there are 50 or more workers regularly employed, the committee must have at least four (4) members or any other number prescribed in regulation [clause 9(6)(b)]. At least half the members must be workers employed at the workplace who do not exercise managerial functions [subsection 9(7)]. The employer or constructor is required to select the remaining members from persons who exercise managerial functions for the employer/constructor [subsection 9(9)].
The Ministry recommends that joint health and safety committees be representative of the entire workplace. For example, if a workplace has a plant, office, laboratory and warehouse, the committee should include representatives from each of these areas.
What about workplaces with fewer than 20 workers?
Unless they are subject to a designated substances regulation or the subject of a Director’s or Minister’s order, workplaces with fewer than 20 regularly employed workers are not required to have a joint health and safety committee.
In workplaces where the number of workers regularly exceeds five but no JHSC is required (e.g., because there are fewer than 20 workers) the workers must select, from among themselves, one person to be a health and safety representative [subsection 8(1)].
Unless they are subject to a designated substances regulation or a Director’s or Minister’s order, workplaces with five or fewer regularly employed workers are not required to have either a committee or a health and safety representative.
What is a worker trades committee? When is one required?
Where a joint health and safety committee is required at a construction project (other than those which are expected to last less than three months and or at which fewer than 50 workers are regularly employed) the committee must establish a worker trades committee [subsection 10(1)].
Members of the worker trades committee must represent workers employed in each of the trades at the project [subsection 10(2)]. These members must be selected by workers employed in the trades they represent or, if a trade union represents workers, by the union [subsection 10(3)].
The committee’s primary responsibility is to inform the joint health and safety committee of any health and safety concerns that workers employed in the trades at the workplace might have [subsection 10(4)].
When is a joint health and safety committee required on a farming operation?
A joint health and safety committee is required on a farming operation if there are 20 or more workers who are regularly employed in the workplace and have duties related to one or more of the following operations:
- Mushroom farming
- Greenhouse farming
- Dairy farming
- Hog farming
- Cattle farming
- Poultry farming.
[Subsection 9(2) of the Act and subsections 3(1) and 3(2) of Farming Operations Regulation, O. Reg. 414/05.]
More detailed information is available in the Ministry of Labour’s A Guide for Health and Safety Representatives and Joint Health and Safety Committees on Farming Operations.
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