Joint Health and Safety Committees - Fixed Workplace

Joint health and safety committees (JHSCs) are critical in helping employers develop and maintain healthy and safe workplaces. JHSCs are an important communication link between employees and management and can help create and maintain a positive health and safety culture.

When is a committee required?

The legislation does not require a committee to establish a Terms of Reference; however, they are strongly encouraged to develop one in order to determine the JHSC’s functions in the workplace. These functions may include:

  • Making recommendations to establish or enforce health and safety policies and practices.
  • Helping to identify hazards and recommending controls.
  • Informing others in the workplace about existing or potential hazards and their risks.
  • Establishing and promoting health and safety programs.
  • Evaluating and investigating employee complaints or concerns and, where required, making recommendations to the employer or a supervisor for resolution.
  • Keeping records of complaints, concerns and recommendations.
  • Requesting information from the employer about the identification of hazards or potential hazards.
  • Carrying out monitoring or measuring by trained committee members, as required.
  • Participating in inspections, inquiries and investigations that concern employee health and safety.

The committee may also perform other duties when they are assigned by WorkSafeNB. In addition, a committee may make recommendations to the workplace for other duties to be completed. If agreement is reached with the employer, they can be included in the terms of reference.

There are some other activities where an employer is required to consult with the committee and in which the committee would be expected to participate. Examples include consultation on the development and implementation of the workplace's health and safety program and the review of incident statistics and trends.  

When the employer and the committee are unable to reach agreement on functions in the workplace the committee can contact a WorkSafeNB health and safety office for resolution.

For fixed workplaces, the employer must ensure that:

  • Both the employer and employees agree on the number of people to be designated as committee members. WorkSafeNB's chief compliance officer will establish the size in cases when there is disagreement.
  • The committee is equally represented by both employer and employees, and that the employer representatives are chosen by the employer, and employee representatives are chosen by the employees. Further advice is provided through this legal interpretation.
  • Each of the employer and employee group representatives elect their own co-chairs.
  • The committee meet at least once a month. In workplaces with low risks, the frequency of meetings may be reduced as long as employee health and safety is not affected.
  • Meeting minutes are maintained, using the form approved by WorkSafeNB. A template is available online from the JHSC webpage. Other forms will be considered by WorkSafeNB when requested by the committee. While not specified in legislation it is recommended that meeting minutes be retained for two years.
  • Copies of the minutes signed by the co-chairs are sent to WorkSafeNB. Minutes can be easily sent to WorkSafeNB through the following regional email addresses:

* Kedgwick, St. Quentin
** Atholville, Tide Head

  • The most recent committee meeting minutes, along with the JHSC members' names, are posted in a prominent place or places at the workplace.
  • An officer is contacted to help resolve any health and safety problems that the committee cannot agree upon.

As the employer, you must also:

  • Ensure each JHSC member has attended or will attend an educational program prescribed by the regulations within 12 months of joining the committee. This educational program is offered by approved WorkSafeNB providers.
  • Grant leave with pay and other entitled benefits to attend the educational program.

Committees must:

  • Elect employer and employee representatives and select a co-chair from each group.
  • Meet at least once a month.
  • Take and maintain minutes, including the use of the form approved by WorkSafeNB and send a copy of the minutes to WorkSafeNB.
  • Call WorkSafeNB when an issue cannot be resolved.

It is recommended that meeting minutes and supporting documents be retained by the workplace for two years.

Health and Safety Representatives in Fixed Workplaces

For a place of employment with five to 19 employees regularly employed, the employer may choose to include a provision for a health and safety representative as part of the safety policy. If the place of employment is considered high hazard, or there is a high frequency of incidents, WorkSafeNB may require the employer to designate a health and safety representative. This representative will be elected by the employees.

General Requirements for Health and Safety Representatives

  • The employer may grant leave to any designated health and safety representative in order to attend the training program.
  • The name(s) of the representative(s) must be posted in a prominent place or places.
  • The health and safety representative may do any function that a JHSC may do.
  • The health and safety representative should regularly consult with their employer, and in the event that a matter cannot be resolved, contact a WorkSafeNB health and safety officer to resolve the issue.

As an employee, you must:

  • Consult and co-operate with the JHSC or with your workplace's health and safety representative.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
S.N.B. 1983, c. O-0.2

DUTIES OF EMPLOYERS, OWNERS, CONTRACTORS, SUB-CONTRACTORS, SUPERVISORS, EMPLOYEES AND SUPPLIERS

Section 8.1

8.1 (1) Every employer with 20 or more employees regularly employed in the Province shall establish a written health and safety program, in consultation with the committee or the health and safety representative, that includes provisions with respect to the following matters:

(a) the training and supervision of the employees in matters necessary to their health and safety;

(b) the preparation of written work procedures and codes of practice for the implementation of health and safety work practices, required by this Act, the regulations or by any order made in accordance with this Act;

(c) the identification of the types of work for which the work procedures are required at the places of employment of the employer;

(d) a hazard identification system that includes

(i) evaluation of the place of employment to identify potential hazards,

(ii) procedures and schedules for inspections, and

(iii) procedures for ensuring the reporting of hazards, prompt follow-up and control of the hazards;

(e) a system for the prompt investigation of hazardous occurrences to determine their causes and the actions needed to prevent recurrences;

(f) a record management system that includes reports of employee training, accident statistics, work procedures and health and safety inspections, maintenance, follow-up and investigations; and

(g) monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the program.

(2) The employer shall review its health and safety program at least once each year, in consultation with the committee or the health and safety representative, and shall update the program as required.

(3) The employer shall make a copy of the program and all records available

(a) to the committee or the health and safety representative, and

(b) on request, to an employee at the place of employment or the Commission.

[S.N.B. 2013, c. 15, s. 3]

Section 12 Duties of employee

12. Every employee shall

(a) comply with this Act, the regulations and any order made in accordance with this Act or the regulations;

(b) conduct himself to ensure his own health and safety and that of other persons at, in or near his place of employment;

(c) report to the employer or supervisor the existence of any hazard of which he is aware;

(d) wear or use such protective equipment as is required by regulation;

(e) consult and co-operate with the committee where one has been established or with the health and safety representative where one has been elected or designated; and

(f) co-operate with any person responsible for the enforcement of this Act and the regulations.

[S.N.B. 2001, c. 35, s. 6; 2007, c. 12, s. 3; 2019, c. 38, s. 7]

JOINT HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEES

Section 14 Joint Health and Safety Committees

14. (0.1) This section does not apply to a project site.

(1) Every employer with twenty or more employees regularly employed at a place of employment shall ensure the establishment of a joint health and safety committee.

(1.1.) Repealed. [S.N.B. 2007, c. 12, s. 4]

(2) A committee shall consist of such number of persons as may be agreed to by the employer and the employees.

(3) A committee shall consist of equal representation from both the employer and the employees, and the employer shall designate his representative or representatives and the employees shall designate their representative or representatives.

(4) Where the employer and employees cannot agree on the size of the committee, the Chief Compliance Officer may establish its size.

(5) The employer and employee members of a committee shall elect a co-chairman from their respective groups.

(6) Subject to section 16, a committee shall meet at least once a month.

(7) Repealed. [S.N.B. 2007, c. 12, s. 4]

(8) A committee shall take and maintain minutes of its meeting on a form approved by the Commission.

(9) The employer at a place of employment shall ensure that the names of the members of the committee of the place of employment and the minutes of the most recent committee meeting are posted in a prominent place or places at the place of employment.

(10) A copy of the minutes signed by the co-chairman of the committee shall be sent to the Commission.

(11) - (12) Repealed. [S.N.B. 2007, c. 12, s. 4]

(13) Where a committee cannot agree on a matter related to health and safety, the committee shall call an officer to resolve the problem.

[S.N.B. 1985, c. 64, s. 2; 2001, c. 35, s. 7; 2007, c. 12, s. 4]

Section 14.1 Training for committee members - non-project site

14.1 (1) This section does not apply to a project site.

(2) An employer shall ensure that each person who is designated to serve on a joint health and safety committee

(a) has attended an educational program as prescribed by the regulations, or

(b) attends an educational program prescribed by the regulations within twelve months after being designated, if the person has not attended such program.

(3) Subsection (2) does not apply to a person who, immediately before the commencement of this section, was a member of the committee at a place of employment, but only for so long as that person continues to be a member of the committee at that place of employment.

(4) A person referred to in subsection (3) may attend an educational program prescribed by the regulations if the committee of which the person is a member recommends to the employer that the person attend, and the employer grants leave to the person.

(5) Where an employer does not grant leave in accordance with subsection (4), the Commission may order the employer to grant the person leave to attend the educational program.

(6) Each member of the committee shall, for the periods during which the member is taking any educational program required under this Act that relates to the member's service on the committee or during which the member is attending any committee meetings, receive pay at his or her rate and other benefits to which he or she would otherwise be entitled.

[S.N.B. 2007, c. 12, s. 5]

Section 15 Functions of committee

15. A committee may

(a) make recommendations for the establishment and enforcement of policies involving health and safety practices;

(b) participate in the identification and control of health and safety hazards at the place of employment;

(c) inform employees, supervisors and the employer of existing or potential hazards at the place of employment and of the nature of the risks to their health and safety;

(d) establish and promote health and safety programs for the education and information of the employer, supervisors and employees;

(e) receive, consider and make recommendations to the employer or a supervisor regarding complaints respecting the health and safety of the employees at the place of employment;

(f) maintain records respecting the receipt of, the consideration of and recommendations respecting complaints;

(g) obtain information from the employer respecting the identification of existing or potential hazards of conditions, tools, equipment, devices and machines at the place of employment;

(h) carry out monitoring and measuring procedures by trained committee members where the Commission has determined there is a need for regular monitoring and measuring at the place of employment and has directed the committee to carry out such monitoring and measuring;

(i) investigate any matter referred to in paragraph (e);

(j) participate in all inspections, inquiries, and investigations concerning the health and safety of employees, and in particular the investigation of any matter referred to in section 43;

(k) perform any other duties that

(i) the Commission may assign to a committee;

(ii) may be assigned to a committee by agreement between the employer and the employees, or

(iii) are prescribed by this Act or the regulations.

[S.N.B. 2019, c. 38, s. 8]

Section 16 Meetings of committee

16. (1) Where the nature of employment at a place of employment presents a low risk to the health or safety of employees at the place of employment, the Commission may, upon receipt of an application from the committee and after such consultation with any interested persons as it considers advisable, reduce the frequency of committee meetings, if the standard of health and safety of the employees is not thereby materially affected.

(2) Where meetings as scheduled by a committee could cause a disruption to the normal operations at a place of employment, the Commission may, upon receipt of an application from the employer and in consultation with the committee, schedule the time for the meetings of the committee.

HEALTH AND SAFETY REPRESENTATIVES

Section 17 Health and safety representatives

17. (0.1) This section does not apply to a project site.

(1) Subject to subsection (2), every employer with not fewer than five and not more than nineteen employees regularly employed at a place of employment shall establish a safety policy in respect of that place of employment which shall set out the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors and employees and which may include provision for a health and safety representative.

(2) Where the nature of employment at a place of employment presents a high risk to the health and safety of employees or where the accident record of a place of employment is higher than is normal for that place of employment or for similar places of employment, the Commission may require an employer to establish and file with the Commission a safety policy that includes provision for a health and safety representative.

(3) Where a safety policy established under subsection (1) or (2) includes provision for a health and safety representative, the employees shall elect a health and safety representative.

(4) The employer shall post the name of the elected health and safety representative in a prominent place or places at the place of employment.

[S.N.B. 2007, c. 12, s. 6; 2019, c. 38, s. 9]

Section 18 Function of health and safety representatives

18. (1) A health and safety representative may do anything that a committee may do under section 15.

(2) A health and safety representative shall consult regularly with his employer in the course of his activities.

(3) Where the employer and a health and safety representative cannot agree on a matter related to health or safety, the health and safety representative shall call an officer to resolve the problem.