Today, more than ever, employers must be in a position to demonstrate due diligence by having proof that, given the circumstances, they have taken all reasonable precautions to prevent injuries or accidents in the workplace. The Internal Responsibility System in Ontario is set up so employers and workers have joint responsibility for health and safety. The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act creates an interlocking set of obligations, duties and rights that both the employer and worker must follow. A health and safety committee is a joint forum of employees and employers working together to improve health and safety. If your company has 20 or more employees, you must, by law, have a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). Legislation also specifies that one worker and one manager of every JHSC must be trained in the fundamentals of health and safety and that both members must be trained in workplace-specific hazards. This training is known as Certification Part One and Certification Part Two. The purpose of certification training is to provide special knowledge, training and skills to all workers and employers in order to improve their health and safety system. Also, it will encourage and promote the joint participation of workers and employers to act on health and safety issues.
Under the OHS Act, two members must be certified: one management representative and one worker representative. If the employer has fewer than 50 employees, at least two JHSC members must be on the committee. If a company has 50 or more employees, at least four JHSC members must be on the committee. Section 9(12) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that it is the employer’s responsibility to have two certified members on their committee: “Unless otherwise prescribed, a constructor or employer shall ensure that at least one member of the committee representing the constructor or employer and at least one member representing workers are certified members.” R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1, s. 9 (12). A ”competent person” under the Act is defined in part as being “qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to organize the work and its performance“. Many employers provide JHSC certification training to their supervisors in order to deem them competent in health and safety as per the Act, and also so that the employer can demonstrate the required “due diligence”. The health and safety definition of due diligence places the employer in a reverse onus position, meaning they must prove due diligence in order to avoid charges. In the event that a Ministry of Labour Inspector visits your workplace, he or she will issue an order based on Section 9(12) if two committee members are not certified. Certification training is always recommended, not only because it’s required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act but also because it helps the employer to ensure that their committee members have the knowledge and training to recognize assess and control hazards. Certification helps an employer to minimize the chance of accidents, thereby creating a safer workplace.
This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.