Health and Safety Committees
At the University of Ottawa, there exists a single joint occupational health and safety named the University Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (UJOHSC) which includes support from 3 Functional Occupational Health and Safety Committees (FOHSC). The purpose and structure of the committees is set forth in the Terms of Reference with information relating to occupational health and safety available by consulting one of the nearly 40 campus-wide health and safety bulletin boards.
Committee members will also play a role in processes for:
- Work refusal - all workers have the right to refuse work that they feel poses a danger to themselves or others. The process is outlined and is part of the terms of reference.
- Work stoppage - a bi-lateral work stoppage originates from a situation in which a certified member of the health and safety committee believes that "dangerous circumstances" exist.
- Investigation of workplace incidents.
Become a committee member
Workers wanting to get involved with occupational health and safety committees are encouraged to do so by following these steps:
- Express an interest to your direct supervisor.
- Check the members list for vacancies.
- Contact your union or association. Unions and associations appoint their members to each committee.
- If you require assistance, contact the Office of Risk Management.
Management personnel wanting to get involved are invited to contact the Office of Risk Management.
A member handbook is available for all members.
The purpose of workplace health and safety inspections is to identify hazardous conditions that require intervention (e.g. correction or improvement) in order to meet minimum acceptable health and safety legislation, standards and/or best practices. There are different types of inspections, with some being formal, thorough and systematic at periodic, intermittent or planned intervals. Informal continuous inspections should be part of a supervisor’s and worker’s daily routine.
Joint Health and Safety Committee Inspections
Joint Health and Safety Committee inspections are conducted by the members of the health and safety committee and are required under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. Because of the physical size of the University, workplace inspections are conducted monthly to inspect the physical condition of the entire campus at least once annually. A JHSC inspection is considered valid when at least one worker health and safety committee member participants. The JHSC Inspector assists the health and safety committee to accomplish JHSC inspections. There is a process and standardized format for workplace inspections.
Under the uOttawa Terms of Reference, the JHSC Inspector is recognized as representing worker health and safety committee members. When the JHSC Inspector is participating in the inspection, this is a JHSC inspection for the purposes of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. The JHSC Inspector does not represent nor is influenced by management decisions. The JHSC Inspector can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Management has the greatest authority to ensure a healthy and safe workplace; however, other University representatives, such as Faculty Health, Safety and Risk Managers (HSRMs) or the Office of Risk Management, also conduct inspections. These are called management inspections. These inspections also serve to identify hazardous conditions; however, they occur more frequently to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
These different types of inspection can be joined for the purposes of completing JHSC inspections, if a worker health and safety committee is present. As an example:
- Worker health and safety committee member + management member = JHSC inspection
- Worker health and safety committee member + worker health and safety committee member = JHSC inspection
- Management member + management member = management inspection
- Management member + worker who is not a committee member = management inspection
Following a workplace inspection, a report is written and typically sent to the building's Facility Manager or Building Management Agent, who is responsible to respond to the report. The response must include the action taken following recommendations raised from the report or reasons for disagreement of recommendations.