OHS Committees, WHS Representatives and Designates

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Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Committees, Worker Health and Safety (WHS) Representatives, and WHS Designates play an important role in developing a positive health and safety culture in the workplace. They also provide a critical communication link between workers and management.

Employers have a legal responsibility to make sure that OHS Committees, WHS Representative, or WHS Designates is established in their workplace and provide them with the resources necessary to perform their duties.

The duties of an OHS Committee, WHS Representative, or WHS Designate include promoting OHS awareness, participating in workplace inspections, providing advice to correct hazards, and making recommendations to the employer.

Employer Responsibilities

The employer must:

  • Make sure that an OHS Committee, WHS Representative, or WHS Designate is in place as required by the number of persons working at a work site.
  • Make sure an OHS Committee consists of:
    • Not less than two and no more than twelve persons; at least half of which are employees who are not connected with management of the workplace.
    • Worker representatives that are elected by other workers not connected with management at the workplace, or are appointed according to the constitution of a labour union.
    • A sufficient number of employer representatives are appointed for the committee to function.
    • Employer and worker co-chairpersons elected by their respective groups.
  • Make sure a WHS Representative is:
    • Designated, through election by other workers at the workplace, or is appointed in accordance with the constitution of their labour union; and
    • Not connected with the management of the workplace.
  • Make sure a WHS Designate is:
    • Appointed.
    • Connected with the management of the workplace, or if that is not practicable, the employer may fill this role.
  • Make sure workers do not lose pay or other benefits while attending an OHS Committee meeting.
  • Make sure OHS Committee/Representative/Designate training is provided for:
    • For all members of the OHS Committee, where 50 or more persons are employed at a work site.
    • For the co-chairpersons of the OHS Committee, where 10 to 49 persons are employed at a work site.
    • A WHS Rrepresentative, where less than 10 persons are employed at a work site.
    • A WHS Designate, where less than 6 persons are employed at a worksite.
  • Provide and pay for OHS Committee/Representative/Designate training and compensate workers for participating as if the training were part of regular work.
  • Have provisions for establishing and operating an OHS Committee, including procedural rules (i.e., terms of reference), such as how the Committee members will be selected, how the committee will perform their duties, etc.
  • Consult and co-operate with the OHS Committee, WHS Representative, or WHS Designate on all OHS matters.
  • Respond in writing that a recommendation has been accepted or rejected (with a reason) within 30 days to the OHS Committee, WHS Representative, or Designate.
  • Provide periodic written updates on an accepted recommendation until it is complete to the OHS Committee, WHS Representative, or WHS Designate.
  • Consult with the OHS Committee, WHS Representative, or WHS Designate about the scheduling of workplace inspections, and make sure they participate in these inspections.

Worker Health and Safety Designate Responsibilities

The Worker Health and Safety Designate must:

  • Participate in OHS Committee/Representative/Designate training.
  • Perform the same duties as a committee, if possible.
  • Consult with the employer while performing their duties.
  • Consult with workers while performing their duties, if the designate is also the employer.

Workplace Health and Safety Representatives Responsibilities

The Workplace Health and Safety Representatives must:

  • Participate in OHS Committee/Representative/Designate training.
  • Perform the same duties as a committee, if possible.
  • Consult with the employer while performing their duties, where they are not the employer.

OHS Committee Responsibilities

The OHS Committee must:

  • Participate in OHS Committee/Representative/Designate training.
  • Meet within two weeks of its establishment, elect co-chairpersons as required, and notify WorkplaceNL of the elected co-chairs.
  • Meet during regular working hours, at least once every three months.
  • Record meeting minutes in accordance with WorkplaceNL and distribute these minutes as required.
  • Make sure that formal OHS Committee meetings meet quorum. Quorum means that at least one-half of the OHS committee members are present, with the number of employer members not exceeding the number of worker members.
  • Request the minister intervene where an agreement cannot be reached between co-chairpersons on when the committee will meet.
  • Identify aspects of the workplace that may be unhealthy or unsafe.
  • Participate in workplace inspections.
  • Make recommendations to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers at the workplace.
  • Receive complaints from workers about their OHS concerns and maintain records of these complaints and any follow-up actions.
  • Establish and promote health and safety educational programs at the workplace.
  • Co-operate with an OHS Officer who is exercising their duties under the OHS Act.
  • Perform other duties required by the OHS Regulations.
  • Follow those procedures that may be required by the OHS Regulations.

Related Topics

OHS committee

Where 10 or more workers are employed at a workplace, the employer shall establish an occupational health and safety committee to monitor the health, safety and welfare of the workers employed at the workplace.
A committee shall consist of 2 to 12 persons. Where the employer and workers cannot agree on the size of the committee, the minister may establish its size.
At least half of the members are to be persons representing the workers who are not connected with the management. The persons representing the workers are to be elected by other workers or appointed in accordance with the constitution of the union of which the workers are members.
The employer shall appoint sufficient employer representatives to ensure that the committee may function.
The employer and worker members of a committee shall elect a co-chair person from their respective groups.
The employer shall post the names of the committee members in a prominent place at the workplace.
A committee:
  • Shall seek to identify aspects of the workplace that may be unhealthy or unsafe;
  • Shall participate in a workplace inspection that an employer is required by the regulations to conduct;
  • May make recommendations to principal contractors, employers, workers, self-employed persons and the assistant deputy minister or an officer for the enforcement of standards to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers at the workplace;
  • Shall receive complaints from workers as to their concerns about the health and safety of the workplace and their welfare;
  • Shall establish and promote health and safety educational programs for workers;
  • Shall maintain records as to the receipt and disposition of complaints received from workers;
  • Shall co-operate with the assistant deputy minister or an officer who is exercising his or her duties under the act; and
  • Shall perform those other duties and follow those procedures that may be prescribed by the regulations.
Meetings of a committee shall take place during regular working hours at least once every 3 months and a worker is not to suffer loss of pay or other benefits while engaged in a meeting of a committee.

Worker Health and Safety Representative

Where less than 10 workers are employed at a workplace, the employer shall ensure that a worker not connected with the management of the workplace is designated as the worker health and safety representative to monitor the health, safety and welfare of workers employed at the workplace.

The worker health and safety representative is to be elected by other workers at the workplace or appointed in accordance with the constitution of the labour union of which the workers are members.
The employer shall post the name of the worker health and safety representative in a prominent place at the workplace.
A worker health and safety representative has the same duties as those imposed upon a committee where that is reasonably practicable.
A worker health and safety representative shall consult with his or her employer while performing his or her duties.

Workplace Health and Safety Designate

Where less than 6 persons are engaged at a workplace and the designation of a worker health and safety representative is impracticable, the employer may designate a workplace health and safety designate to monitor the health, safety and welfare of workers employed at the workplace.
The workplace health and safety designate shall be appointed by the employer. The workplace health and safety designate may be either a worker connected with the management of the workplace; or the employer, if the designation of a worker connected with the management of the workplace is not practicable.
If the assistant deputy minister or an officer is of the opinion that a workplace health and safety designate cannot adequately monitor the health, safety and welfare of workers employed at the workplace, the assistant deputy minister or officer shall order, in writing, that a worker health and safety representative be designated.
The employer shall provide and pay for training for the workplace health and safety designate. The training provided shall meet the requirements that the Workplace Health and Safety Compensation Commission may set. An employer shall compensate a worker for participating in training as if the training were regular work.
The workplace health and safety designate shall participate in the training provided.
The employer shall post the name of the worker health and safety designate in a prominent place at the workplace.
A worker health and safety designate has the same duties as those imposed upon a committee where that is reasonably practicable.
A worker health and safety designate, where the workplace health and safety designate is not the employer, shall consult with his or her employer while performing his or her duties. Where the workplace health and safety designate is the employer, he or she shall consult with the workers while performing his or her duties.

Distribution of Minutes:

  • One copy filed with the OHS committee
  • One copy filed with WorkplaceNL
  • One copy posted in a prominent location in the workplace

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
R.S.N.L. 1990, c. O-3

Section 37 Committees

37. Where 10 or more workers are employed at a workplace, the employer shall establish an occupational health and safety committee to monitor the health, safety and welfare of the workers employed at the workplace.

[S.N.L. 1999, c. 28, s. 9]

Section 38 Membership of committees

38. (1) A committee shall consist of the number of persons that may be agreed to by the employer and the workers but shall not be less than 2 nor more than 12 persons.

(2) At least half of the members of a committee are to be persons representing the workers at the workplace who are not connected with the management of the workplace.

(3) The persons representing the workers on the committee are to be elected by other workers at the workplace or appointed in accordance with the constitution of the union of which the workers are members.

(4) Where the employer and workers cannot agree on the size of the committee, the minister may establish its size.

(5) The employer shall appoint sufficient employer representatives to ensure that the committee may function.

(6) The employer and worker members of a committee shall elect a co- chairperson from their respective groups.

(7) The employer shall post the names of the committee members in a prominent place at the workplace.

Section 39 Duties of committees

39. A committee established under section 37

(a) shall seek to identify aspects of the workplace that may be unhealthy or unsafe;

(a.1) shall participate in a workplace inspection that an employer is required by the regulations to conduct;

(b) may make recommendations to principal contractors, employers, workers, self-employed persons and the assistant deputy minister or an officer for the enforcement of standards to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers at the workplace;

(c) shall receive complaints from workers as to their concerns about the health and safety of the workplace and their welfare;

(d) shall establish and promote health and safety educational programs for workers;

(e) shall maintain records as to the receipt and disposition of complaints received from workers under paragraph (c);

(f) shall co-operate with the assistant deputy minister or an officer who is exercising his or her duties under the Act; and

(g) shall perform those other duties and follow those procedures that may be prescribed by the regulations.

[S.N.L. 2001, c. 10, s. 29]

Section 40 Meetings of committee

40. Meetings of a committee shall take place during regular working hours at least once every 3 months and a worker is not to suffer loss of pay or other benefits while engaged in a meeting of a committee.

Section 41 Worker representative

41. (1) Where less than 10 workers are employed at a workplace, the employer shall ensure that a worker not connected with the management of the workplace is designated as the worker health and safety representative to monitor the health, safety and welfare of workers employed at the workplace.

(2) The employer shall provide and pay for training for the worker health and safety representative.

(3) The training provided under subsection (2) shall meet the requirements the Workplace Health Safety and Compensation Commission may set.

(4) The worker health and safety representative shall participate in the training provided under this section.

(5) An employer shall compensate a worker for participating in training under this section as if the training were regular work.

[S.N.L. 2001, c. 10, s. 30; 2004, c. 47, s. 27]

Section 42 Election of representative

42. The worker health and safety representative is to be elected by other workers at the workplace or appointed in accordance with the constitution of the labour union of which the workers are members.

Section 43 Posting name

43. The employer shall post the name of the worker health and safety representative or the workplace health and safety designate in a prominent place at the workplace.

[S.N.L. 2004, c. 52, s. 9]

Section 44 Duties of representative

44. (1) A worker health and safety representative or the workplace health and safety designate has the same duties as those imposed upon a committee under section 39, where that is reasonably practicable.

(2) A worker health and safety representative or the workplace health and safety designate, where the workplace health and safety designate is not the employer, shall consult with his or her employer while performing his or her duties under subsection (1).

(3) Where the workplace health and safety designate is the employer, he or she shall consult with the workers while performing his or her duties under subsection (1).

[S.N.L. 2004, c. 52, s. 10]

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2012
N.L.R. 5/12

Part IV OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND DESIGNATES

Section 25 Operations of committees, representatives and designates

25. (1) An employer shall ensure that

(a) an occupational health and safety committee is established;

(b) a worker health and safety representative is appointed; or

(c) a workplace health and safety designate is designated; and

(d) a copy of the Act and regulations under the Act are easily accessible to an employee.

(2) Minutes of all regular meetings and special committee meetings shall be recorded in the form prescribed by the commission and one copy shall be kept on file with the committee, one copy shall be filed with the commission and one copy shall be posted in a prominent place in the workplace.

(3) A worker health and safety representative or a workplace health and safety designate shall report to the commission in the form required by the commission.

(4) An occupational health and safety committee shall

(a) meet within 2 weeks of its establishment;

(b) elect co-chairpersons as required by subsection 38(6) of the Act; and

(c) notify the commission of the elected co-chairs.

(5) A quorum of the committee shall consist of one-half of its membership, provided that both employer and worker members are equally represented.

(6) Where an agreement cannot be reached between co-chairpersons on convening a meeting of the committee, the minister may be requested to intervene.

(7) The minister may require that a committee have monthly meetings where a particular hazard is involved, the operations are particularly complex or large numbers of workers are involved.

(8) A representative of the employer and

(a) the workers of an occupational health and safety committee;

(b) the worker health and safety representative; or

(c) the workplace health and safety designate, except where the workplace health and safety designate is the employer,

have the right to accompany an officer of the division when the health and safety inspections are being conducted.

(9) Copies of all health and safety inspection reports made by an officer of the division, shall be circulated by the employer to

(a) the occupational health and safety committee;

(b) the worker health and safety representative; or

(c) the workplace health and safety designate.