The certification requirements for Ontario workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee (“JHSC”) members are changing on March 1, 2016. These changes will impact all employers who are required to have a workplace JHSC.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”) workplaces that have twenty (20) or more workers regularly employed are required to have a JHSC with one certified worker representative and one certified employer representative.

As of March 1, 2016, individuals seeking to become certified JHSC members will need to go through the new JHSC Certification Training Program Standard (the “New Standard”). This change is occurring to strengthen and create consistency in the training requirements for all certified JHSC members and to ensure the high quality and consistent delivery of approved JHSC certification training programs.

The New Standard includes the following changes:

  1. The length of the training has been standardized. In addition, a limit has been created on the amount of training that can be done electronically. The minimum hours for training are:  
    • Part One training - three days (19.5 hours);
    • Part Two training - two days (13 hours);
    • Refresher Training - one day (6.5 hours) every three years;
    • A maximum of six and a half hours (6.5) of Part One Training can be delivered via eLearning; and
    • Part One and Part Two training are required to be completed within 6 months of each other.
  2. Unlike the old JHSC certification that did not require any refresher courses, refresher training is now required to support ongoing learning for all members certified under the New Standard. Topics include:  
    • a review of key concepts from Part One and Part Two Training;
    • updates on legislation, standards, codes of practice and occupational health and safety best practices; and
    • an opportunity for certified members to share and discuss best practices.
  3. A new Training Provider Standard will be introduced for training providers setting out the criteria that must be met in order for their programs to be approved by the Ministry of Labour. All current training provider programs must be submitted to the Ministry of Labour for approval.
  4. More participant interaction and ongoing evaluations will be required in the training programs.
  5. A formalized Part Two Training, which now must include training on a minimum of six hazards that are relevant to the committee member’s workplace.

Do these changes affect current certified JHSC members?

The Ministry of Labour has decided that members already certified under the former 1996 Standards will be grandfathered into the New Standard. These certified members will not be required to recertify under the New Standard nor participate in refresher courses every three years. Certification is not employer specific. If an employee leaves one employer and joins another, their certification will follow them, regardless of which certification has been completed.

However, individuals who have completed only Part One of the training (but not Part Two) under the former 1996 Standards, will be required to take Part Two of the training under the New Standard. They will also be subject to the Refresher course every three years.

The New Standard is more rigorous both in terms of time required to complete the training and keep the certification current. As a result, employers will need to be diligent about ensuring certified members keep their certification current.