The Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations state that where ten or more workers are employed at a workplace, the employer must establish and maintain an occupational health and safety (OHS) program.
An OHS Program is a process to manage health and safety issues in the workplace. It prevents injury, illness and property damage and decreases the associated human and financial costs. An effective OHS Program creates a positive health and safety culture.
Duties of Employers and Workers in OHS
Employers and employees have a personal responsibility and accountability for workplace health and safety. This is also referred to as an Internal Responsibility System (IRS). Employers are responsible for developing safe work practices, providing adequate training and making employees familiar with hazards in the workplace. Employees follow the safe work practices, participate in the training and report hazards.
An occupational health and safety committee is an advisory group made up of management and worker representatives. The committee encourages collaboration between the employer and the worker to address health and safety concerns in the workplace. Committees identify and evaluate concerns, make recommendations for corrective action and promote health and safety in the workplace to reduce accidents and injuries.
Worker Health and Safety Representative
A workplace health and safety representative is required in workplaces with fewer than ten employees. A firm with more than one workplace (i.e. retail company with stores across the province, school board with schools across the district etc.) must have worker health and safety representatives at each location that has fewer than ten employees.
The employer must ensure that a worker (not connected with management) is designated as the worker health and safety representative. The representative must be elected by their peers, or appointed by the labour union. The individual’s name is to be posted in a prominent area in the workplace.
Workplace Health and Safety Designate
When a worker health and safety representative is impractical (companies with high turnover or all part-time staff), and the workplace has less than six employees, an employer may appoint a health and safety designate. The workplace health and safety designate can be a worker connected with management. If that is not possible, the employer can be the designate.
The workplace health and safety designate must complete the same training program and perform the same duties as the worker health and safety representative.