New Changes to Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committees and Health and Safety Representatives Come Into Effect on January 31, 2020
On December 13, 2019, the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Labour and Immigration issued a Director's Order changing the requirements for joint work site health and safety committees and health and safety representatives in Alberta (the "Order"). The Order comes into effect on January 31, 2020.
Under the Order, employers who employ 20 or more workers and have work that is expected to last more than 90 days must establish a joint work site health and safety committee. Employers who employ 5 to 19 workers and have work that is expected to last more than 90 days must have a health and safety representative.
This reduces the requirements for employers who, since June 1, 2018, were required to have a joint work site health and safety committee or a health and safety representative at each and every work site in Alberta, provided they met the threshold of workers and length of work.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the "Act") the joint work site health and safety committee and the health and safety representative are responsible for several things, including:
- receiving, considering, and dealing with concerns and complaints respecting the health and safety of workers;
- meeting quarterly to discuss health and safety concerns;
- participating in the identification of hazards at the workplace;
- developing and promoting measures to protect the health and safety of persons at the work site;
- developing and promoting health and safety education and information programs;
- making recommendations to the employer, prime contractor or owner respecting the health and safety of workers;
- inspecting the work site at regular intervals;
- participating in investigations of serious workplace injuries and incident; and
- maintaining records relating to health and safety matters.
The Order may portend more significant changes to come in 2020 as the newly elected Alberta government continually states it will "cut red tape". Compliance with the Act can be intimidating. Employers are encouraged to seek legal guidance with respect to their obligations under the Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Code.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.