OHS Committees, Worker Health and Safety Representatives and Designates
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 Designate include promoting OHS awareness, participating in workplace inspections, providing advice to correct hazards, resolving work refusals and making recommendations to the employer.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations state requirements for OHS Committees, WHS Representatives and Designates. Below is a Table to help you determine what you need at your workplace.
An OHS 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 Worker Health and Safety (WHS) representative is required at worksites with fewer than ten employees. The employer must ensure that a worker not connected with management is selected as the WHS representative. The WHS representative must be either elected by their peers or appointed by the labour union. The individual’s name must be posted in a prominent location at the worksite.
Workplace Health and Safety Designate
When a WHS representative is impractical (e.g. companies with high turnover or all part-time staff) and the workplace has less than six employees, an employer may appoint a Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) designate. The WHS designate can be a worker connected with management. If that is not possible, the employer can be the WHS designate.