An updated Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) and revised regulations take effect on Dec. 1, 2021. For employers, the updated OHS laws continue to help them ensure their workplaces are as healthy and safe as possible. For workers, the updated OHS laws continue to provide fundamental rights and protections to help ensure they are working in healthy and safe environments. The laws help workers do their jobs safely and give them the right to participate in health and safety matters.
For health and safety committees (HSC) and representatives (HSR), the technical rules for them have been moved from the OHS Act to the OHS Code. The OHS Code is a regulation, the more appropriate place for technical rules and requirements and can be more easily updated to ensure rules stay current with best practices. The OHS Act retains the overall enabling provisions for committees and representatives.
Highlights of HSC/HSR changes:
- Health and safety committees and representatives will no longer be mandatory on work sites with multiple employers and a prime contractor.
- Prime contractors will be required to coordinate health and safety issues between workers and employers. Prime contractors must also designate a person to ensure cooperation between employers and workers occurs.
- Note this does not change the responsibility for individual employers under a prime contractor to have their own HSC or HSR.
- The new OHS Act simplifies how the number of workers is calculated when deciding if an employer requires a health and safety committee or a representative.
- The calculation is based on the number of workers “regularly employed.” The new method more accurately depicts worker numbers in normal conditions. The new method also excludes volunteers and those not being financially compensated from the calculation.
- The requirements of 20 or more workers for a committee and five to 19 workers for a representative remain the same.
- Employers and workers have more flexible options for training and it can be tailored to suit individual workplace needs.
- Training requirements have been expanded to include committee members as well as committee co-chairs and representatives (except for farms and ranches).
- There is no longer a requirement for government-approved training courses or training providers.
- Training will follow general guidelines in the OHS Code.