OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 13 Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee

Section 196 Ministerial order

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

Where the OHS Code refers to or requires something of a joint work site health and safety committee, the requirement only applies to a committee that has been mandated by Ministerial Order. An employer wishing to use the requirement for a voluntary joint work site health and safety committee is encouraged to do so.

Work sites throughout the province are routinely inspected or monitored for compliance with the OHS Act and regulations by occupational health and safety officers. If an employer fails to adequately address health and safety concerns, an officer may, using the criteria listed below, request the employer to voluntarily create a committee. The request is formalized in a written agreement, signed by the employer and the officer. The committee is required to operate within the principles and structure specified in this Part, and to perform the activities described in section 31 of the OHS Act. These activities are described in detail later in this explanation.

The following criteria will be used by officers as the basis for the request:

(a) repeated violations of the OHS Act or regulations;
(b) failure to comply with orders to correct safety hazards;
(c) repeated substantive worker complaints within a brief period of time;
(d) a lost-time claim rate exceeding the industry average; and
(e) poor communication between the employer and worker on health and safety matters.

If the voluntary arrangement is not agreeable to the employer, or the conditions of an existing agreement are not being met, the officer will recommend to the Minister that the work site be designated as requiring a mandatory committee. The designation will be by a Ministerial Order in accordance with the OHS Act. The designation is not intended to be punitive. It is a method of improving communication between the employer and workers and encouraging an awareness of, and commitment to, health and safety at the work site.

The employer of the designated work site will be contacted by the Minister or Deputy Minister to discuss the intent of the designation, the importance of complying with the OHS Act and regulations and the importance of the committee to health and safety.

An up-to-date listing of employers required to have a committee by Ministerial Order will be maintained at the Workplace Health and Safety website.

Work Sites Requiring a Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee

Required committee activities

As described in section 31 of the OHS Act, a committee is required to

(a) identify situations at the work site that may be unhealthy or unsafe,
(b) make recommendations to prime contractors, contractors, employers and workers that improve the health and safety of workers at the work site,
(c) establish and maintain educational programs regarding the health and safety of workers at the work site, and
(d) carry out those duties and functions required by the OHS Code.

Alberta Human Services has prepared several Safety Bulletins to help employers and workers establish and maintain effective committees.

For more information
Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee Member’s Guide
Bulletin LI003
 
Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee Handbook
Bulletin LI004
 
Employer’s Guide: Health and Safety Committees
Bulletin LI005