It is not just that the law says that certain organizations must have JHSCs (joint health and safety committees) , the legal driving force behind the committee is ‘Due Diligence’. A company or individual that fails to establish a legally-required JHSC has no chance of making out a due diligence defence. The result is exposure to liability under OHS laws and even criminal liability under Bill C-45.
What the law says,
Section 9 of the ACT, subsection (2) states,
“A joint health and safety committee is required,
a) At a workplace at which twenty or more workers are regularly employed
b) At a workplace with respect to which an order to an employer is in effect under section 33, or
c) At a workplace, other than a construction project where fewer than twenty workers are regularly employed , with respect to which a regulation concerning designated substances applies.”
By the way, section 33 of the OHSA deals with the Toxic Substances subsection (1) deals directly with ‘Orders of Director’.
Section 33, subsection (1) states,
“Where a biological, chemical, or physical agent or combination of such agents is used or intended to be used in the workplace and its presence in the workplace or the manner of its use is in the opinion of a Director likely to endanger the health of a worker, the Director shall by notice in writing to the employer that the use, intended use, presence or manner of use be,
b) Limited or restricted in such manner as the Director specifies, or
c) Subject to such conditions regarding administrative control, work practices, engineering control and time limits for compliance as the Director specifies.”
Section 3 of the OHSA, subsection (3) states,
“Despite subsection (1) and (2), the Minister may, by order in writing, require a constructor or an employer to establish and maintain one or more JHSCs for a workplace or part thereof, and may, in such order, provide for the composition, practice and procedure of any committee so established.”
We have the answer right in front of us on just how important the MOL feels about putting together a JHSC. Too many workers have been injured on the job or have died as the result of the incidental injury. The rise in numbers drove the government to establish guidelines and the Ham Commission, established way back in the early 70s because of high cancer rates at Elliott Lake, recommended the creation of the JHSC as part of their “Internal Responsibility System”. It was commission’s hope, out of the over 100 recommendations, to see the workers have more of a say in their own safety in the workplace. The refusal of the creation of a JHSC is a crime under the law.
Attention all managers of companies. Lead the way and create a JHSC. If an accident occurs and all safety compliances are not in place at that time, you will be held liable, the company may be in-line for a lawsuit and heavy fine and you may end up going to jail.
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.