On December 14, 2016, WorkSafeBC's board of directors approved changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation that will mean changes for employer duties with respect to joint health and safety committees and health and safety representatives. The changes, which took effect on April 3, 2017, change the way employers evaluate the effectiveness of their committees, what training is required for committee members, and what it means for committee members to take part in employer incident investigations.
Under the amended regulation, section 3.26 was added, requiring employers to ensure that an annual written evaluation of the committee is completed confirming the following:
- The committee met the membership requirements set out in the Workers' Compensation Act (the "Act");
- The worker and employer representatives on the committee were selected in accordance with the Act;
- The committee filled its duties and functions as set out in the Act;
- The committee met regularly, as required by the Act;
- The employer responded to written recommendations by the committee as required by the Act;
- Each member of the committee received the time off from work that the member was entitled to, as set out in the Act;
- Each committee member attended the occupational health and safety courses they were entitled to attended under the Act;
- The employer provided the committee with the equipment,, premises, clerical personnel and information required by the Act;
- The committee prepared reports of its meetings and provided copies to the employer;
- The employer met the requirements for posting and keeping posted committee information as required by the Act; and
- Each member of the committee received the instruction and training the employer was require to ensure was provided by the Act.
The assessment must also include an evaluation of the effectiveness of the committees rules of procedure established under the Act, and an assessment of the overall effectiveness of the committee.
The revised regulation sets out who must receive a copy of the evaluation and when it must be discussed by the committee.
In addition to the evaluation requirements, section 3.27 was added to the regulation requiring employers to ensure that each member of the committee, or each health and safety representative, who was selected on or after April 3, 2017, receive at least 8 hours of training on specific topics as set out in the regulation. This training is in addition to the educational leave allowed in section 135 of the Act. Committee members and health and safety representatives must receive the training as soon as practicable, but no later than 6 months after becoming a member. The regulation does allow for limited exceptions to these training requirements.
The employer is required to ensure that the person who receives the training receives a copy of their training record after the training is completed, and the employer is required to keep a record of the training until 2 years after the person ceases to be a member of the joint health and safety committee, or a health and safety representative.
Finally, the revised regulation added section 3.28, which clarified the meaning of "participate" in section 174 of the Act. That section sets out the activities to be conducted by the employer, or a representative of the employer, and a worker representative while conducting an incident investigation. Under the revise regulation, investigation activities have been added to include:
- Assisting the investigation with gathering information about the investigation;
- Assisting the investigator with analyzing the information gathered; and
- Assisting the investigator with identifying any corrective actions necessary to prevent recurrences of similar incidents.
As stated above, the provisions of the revised regulation took effect on April 3, 2017, and will affect all employers in British Columbia with joint health and safety committees and health and safety representatives. Employers should familiarize themselves with the updated regulations and ensure that the appropriate committee evaluations are completed and training is provided.