If you operate a workplace in British Columbia with 10 or more workers, you may need to make some changes to your workplace health and safety practices.
Recent amendments to British Columbia’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) took effect on April 3, 2017 that introduce new training, evaluation and investigation requirements for worker health and safety representatives and joint health and safety committees.
Once a BC workplace reaches a certain size, workers must be involved in workplace health and safety. Workplaces that regularly employ 10 to 19 workers must have a worker health and safety representative and workplaces that regularly employ 20 or more workers must establish a joint health and safety committee made up of employer and worker representatives.
The role of worker health and safety representatives and joint committees is to work with the employer to identify and find solutions to workplace health and safety issues. This includes, among other things, identifying unsafe work conditions, dealing with health and safety complaints, evaluating the sufficiency and compliance of health and safety practices and participating in inspections, investigations and inquiries under the Workers Compensation Act and the OHSR.
These requirements remain in place.
The OHSR amendments make changes in three areas:
- Annual Evaluation of Joint Committees – The employer must ensure that a written evaluation of the joint committee is conducted each year. The evaluation may be completed by the joint committee co-chairs (or their designates), the employer or a third party retained by the employer. WorkSafeBC has created an evaluation tool to assist employers, which can be found at http://worksafebcmedia.com/test/jc/index.php.
- Training – New worker health and safety representatives and joint committee members must complete health and safety training upon their appointment. Joint committee members must complete 8 hours of training and worker health and safety representatives must complete 4 hours. The requirement is met if the person has previously completed the training.
- Role in Investigations – Worker health and safety representatives and joint committees must participate in the employer’s workplace health and safety investigations (which are separate from WorkSafeBC investigations). This obligation is not new, but the scope of that participation has been clarified to specifically include providing assistance to the investigator with gathering and analyzing information and identifying corrective action.
The OHSR can be found here.